Rough cuts | Mangroves make tourism money

WE WERE  in Cebu City last week for some family matters. And believe you us. Here is this policy being implemented by the Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD), the local water distribution utility in that Central Visayan metropolis.

Customers whose water connections are cut off for failure to pay their bills are required to attend a seminar or some kind of a reorientation before their water supply can be reconnected. It is a two-hour activity but according to some customers we have talked to, in most cases the waiting of the facilitator/s to arrive takes even longer than the actual seminar.

And it happened to a neighbor of ours in Cebu last Monday. We were scheduled to pay his family a visit Monday afternoon but we were only received by the wife because the husband was attending the MCWD seminar to comply with the requirement before their cut off water connection could be restored.

Wow! Ibang klase! We are hoping that the Davao City Water District (DCWD) will not entertain such idea just to ensure that its customers pay regularly.

And talking of our Cebu sojourn we have seen the place to be traversed by the seven-kilometer 3rd bridge that will span the island of Mactan starting from the town of Cordova towards the South Road Project in Cebu City.

It is a multi-billion government infrastructure project under the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) scheme bagged by the Manny Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investment Corporation (MPIC). A pretty long portion of the bridge will be over a wide area of mangroves. And there is no doubt that some of these coastal trees will be cut when the Spanish construction company tapped by MPIC to build the bridge will start erecting its giant posts. Therefore, environmentalist groups are expected to mount strong protests. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) may likely be pressured to undertake more stringent regulations to ensure that there will be minimal destruction on the mangroves and other coastal trees to show the mostly militant environmentalist organizations that the government is not lenient on its rules even if its application is to be done on critical development projects.

However, we have noted that the Pangilinan-led development firm has already made proactive moves even before the first pylon is erected.

Its MPIC Foundation has already set up the Mangrove Propagation Information Center (MPIC – take note of the acronym) with the intention to preserve the huge mangrove forest and replenish many times over whatever mangroves that might be leveled off as a consequence of the bridge construction.

In other words MPIC is making sure that there will be no more hassle when construction starts and that the huge government project would be completed on its agreed timetable.

Moreover, the Municipality of Cordova and the City of Lapu-lapu are already getting a lot of revenues from out of their mangrove forests. They have converted their mangrove plantations into eco-tourism spots by putting facilities for tourists. Hectares upon hectares of mangrove forests are interconnected with wooden and concrete foot paths and there are gazebos built in strategic locations where tour guides conduct educational lectures on mangroves and the many creatures living in the water and mud under their shades.

We have also noted that getting inside the mangrove forests is the best remedy to one’s tired eyes and emasculated body after days and days of living and working in an overly populated, environmentally altered, and crowded metropolis of concrete jungles.

With this we are reminded of Davao City’s own multi-billion coastal road project. As far as we know the construction is now ongoing and that it is being undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). However, this is being bid out to certain contractors most likely on a per component basis.

We know that the coastal highway will cut across areas that have mangroves. The possibility therefore, is that these mangroves will have to be eliminated to give way to this development incursion.

The question now is whether the DPWH has crafted measures to prevent the mangroves’ total destruction or something that may allow the growth of new mangrove forests in locations parallel to the bridge, in the process enhancing the infrastructure’s beauty as a scene by itself.

The DPWH need not do the measure but it can set such as a requirement for compliance by the lucky contractors undertaking the different components of the coastal highway project.

We can only hope that this aspect of protecting an important part of our biodiversity has been thought of by the DPWH if only for the future generation to have a snapshot of what Davao City’s coastal areas used to be before their time.

Posted in Opinion