Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lava Island reclamation residents fear project's effects on the environment

http://www.philstar .com/Article. aspx?articleId= 450556&publicationSubCateg oryId=107

Lava Island reclamation residents fear project's effects on the environment
Updated March 21, 2009 12:00 AM

CEBU, Philippines - Residents and environmentalists who attended yesterday’s public hearing on the proposed 60-hectare reclamation project on Lava Island, Cordova raised concerns on the possible effect of the project to the environment.

One of the participants to the public hearing said the proponent of the project should include in its environmental impact assessment the protection of the seabeds, corals and other marine specie because many of the local residents are dependent on fishing as their means of livelihood.

The project has seven components that include causeway reclamation, golf course, villa, clubhouse, hotel, dredging and electrical.

Engr. Fe Walag, one of the invited speakers, said one of the aspects for the success of reclamation project is the water supply, and external effect of the reclamation should be needed.

Based on the project rationale presented, she assured that the project would have no negative impact on the environment.

For his part, Vince Cinches, executive director of the Fishermen’s Development Center asked about the possible social impact and social dimension of the project that the proponents failed to address. He suggested they should be included also in the study.

Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy said the proposed reclamation project, which will feature a golf course as its main tourism facility, said the development is a municipal project that would be funded by a private entity. “Wa’y usa ka daku nga makuha sa munisipyo,” he added.

The municipality has received an unsolicited proposal to develop Lava Island from the private firm Golfsalang Phil. Inc. The project will be covered by a 20-year period contract, which is assumed as the project’s lifespan.

Present during the public hearing were local officials from Cordova, provincial government headed by Board Member Victor Maambong, chairman of the PB committee on environmental conservation and natural resources, Dr. Danilo Largo of the office of the research of the University of San Carlos, environmentalist and lawyer Benjamin Cabrido, residents and fisherfolk of the town. — Johanna T. Natavio/WAB (THE FREEMAN)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lawyers, groups eye action vs. local authorities

Lawyers, groups eye action vs. local authorities

LAWYERS and nongovernment organizations are “outraged” over the way government agencies handled the case involving
a vessel that ran aground and damaged the protected fish sanctuary in Talisay City.

Government agencies will be held accountable, said lawyer Gloria Estenzo-Ramos of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines–National Environmental Action Team (IBP – Neat).

“We will take the lead, we will make them accountable,” she said in a press conference yesterday.

Ramos and lawyer Benjamin Cabrido wrote a letter to Talisay City as well as the Bureau of Customs (BOC), the Philippine Coast Guard and the Cebu Port Authority (CPA) to ask why the mv United was not apprehended.

“There was no marine protest or inquiry or determination,” said Cabrido.

He said they are contemplating on filing a case for damages against the BOC, CPA and the Coast Guard. Since they could not sue the vessel’s owners or operators anymore, which left the Philippine waters, they will go after the agencies that allowed the ship to sail.

The foreign cargo ship mv United ran aground off Barangay Poblacion, Talisay City last March 5, damaging Lagundi Reef’s seabed and corals. The ship is an Athens, Greece-based carrier of Kamtchuka International Limited.

The groups sought Talisay City’s answers to at least 11 questions, including its acceptance of the US$10,000 donation from the ship owner for the immediate rehabilitation of Lagundi Reef.

“Are you aware that considering the circumstances, the act of receiving the amount is a possible violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act?” the group’s letter said.

“Is that some sort of settlement for destroying Lagundi Reef?” Vince Cinches of the Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center Inc. (Fidec) said.

Marine scientist Danilo Largo said the amount is not even enough to rehabilitate the coral reefs, which is a life support system.

“Why was the vessel allowed to leave when no assessment of the extent of the damage was done?” was another question for the city officials.

IBP-Neat, Fidec, the Knight-Stewards of the Sea and a youth group also asked Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia to form Task Force Lagundi, which will investigate last week’s incident.

“We need an independent and multi-sectoral body to look into the incident (and) the scope of responsibilities of the different government agencies,” read the letter addressed to Garcia.

“The mishandling of the destruction of the coral reefs at the Lagundi Reef is, likewise, a telling revelation of the lack of capacity and will of local government units to manage and appreciate the significance or our coasts and marine resources and its failure to coordinate immediately with national government agencies,” the group’s statement also read.

Even Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal has joined the call to protect marine resources through a public service announcement that the group showed reporters yesterday.

“We are outraged, we are angry. You don’t like us when we’re angry because this is our passion, it is not about money,” Cabrido warned.

Earlier, concerned Talisay City residents have also asked Garcia to create a task force that will look into the destruction of the Lagundi Reef.

In their letter-appeal, the residents urged Garcia, who is also the Provincial Marine Protection Council chairperson, to create an independent and multi-sectoral body that will probe the incident.

Sought for comment, Capitol information consultant lawyer Rory Jon Sepulveda said Talisay City has the primary jurisdiction over the issue. But he said they will coordinate with the city authorities “and move from there.”

The captain of the 31,643-gross ton ship, Chen Guangming, was charged with reckless imprudence resulting to damage to property.

Underwater photos show corals reduced to rubble by the ship’s propeller, the group said. Sun.Star Cebu. (JGA/GMD)

Lagundi reef destruction: Environment lawyers eye legal action vs Talisay government
Updated March 14, 2009 12:00 AM

CEBU, Philippines - Members of several environmental groups disclosed yesterday that they will file a case in court against those who are responsible for the destruction of Lagundi Reef.

Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos, chairperson of the National Environment Action Team (NEAT)-Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Cebu chapter, said the local government of Talisay City, together with the Cebu Ports Authority and other agencies should be made accountable for allowing the cargo ship and its crew to leave Cebu without being made to answer for the damage it had cause to the reef when it recently ran aground in the seawaters of Talisay City.

“It is high time for the people to exact accountability on those mandated to protect our life support system. Enough is enough,” Ramos said.

The NEAT-IBP, together with the Global Legal Action on Climate Change-Cebu and Save Tañon Strait Citizens’ Movement with other stakeholders yesterday held a press conference to announce their legal action against those who are responsible for the destruction of Lagundi Reef.

Environmentalists said Talisay City should be made legally accountable for accepting money from the Chinese crew of the foreign vessel and allowing it to leave Cebu without having filed a case against it.

Capt. Chen Guangming of M/V United Majuro was released after undergoing inquest proceedings and paying a P5,000 fines for violating a city ordinance that regulates activities within the Lagundi Reef and giving the city government another $10,000 as donation.

In a manifesto, the environmentalists said they are saddened and perplexed at the way the incident involving the MV united Majuro’s destruction of the corals at the Lagundi Reef was handled by the Talisay City government and pertinent government agencies.

“It is indeed unfortunate that we do not really put a premium on resources conservation and protection,” it said. “Obviously, GMA’s EO 774 on mainstreaming conservation, protection and restoration of the natural world does not make a dent on her executive agencies, including the LGUs.”

They said it is very sad and unfortunate that, as the mishandling of the Lagundi Reef destruction and the reclamation projects that are sprouting, people do not really put a premium on resources conservation and protection.

Atty. Ramos added that amid the climate crisis and its dire implications on survival, people should not solely rely on government to protect the natural heritage as there will be nothing left for the future generations.

The group also requested Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia to form a multi-sectoral body that will conduct investigation into the Lagundi Reef incident. — Johanna T. Natavio/WAB (THE FREEMAN)

RP has second-dirtiest seas, report says

RP has second-dirtiest seas, report says

By Alcuin Papa
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 08:23:00 03/15/2009

Filed Under: Environmental Issues, Pollution

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippines ranks second in the world for most trash recovered from its oceans, an international conservation group has revealed.

The US-based Ocean Conservancy reported that 1,355,236 items of trash were recovered from the country’s shorelines, ocean surface and underwater during the International Coastal Cleanup conducted by the group in September 2008, which involved nearly 400,000 volunteers around the world.

The results of the cleanup were presented in a report by the group titled “A Rising Tide of Ocean Debris” was released on March 10 and available on the group's website.

Topping the list of trash items were plastic bags (679,957 pieces), paper bags (253,013) and food wrappers (103,226). Also recovered were 38,394 pieces of clothing and shoes, 55,814 tobacco-related items including cigarette butts (34,154), lighters and wrappers, and 11,077 diapers.

The United States topped the list of countries with the most trash recovered, with 3,945,855 items. In third place was Costa Rica with 1,017,621 items.

Ocean Conservancy said it collected 11.4 million pieces of trash from 6,485 sites in 104 countries, including the Philippines.

“We are all connected to the ocean. The disheartening amount of trash afloat in the sea, littering beaches and piling up on the sea floor affects the earth’s life support system, the ocean and all the living things in it," the report said.

"Marine debris is more than a blemish on nature, it is a potential threat to our food supply, to tourism and economic activity, to marine wildlife and ecosystems, and to our personal health. It even relates to the impacts of climate change,” it added.

Because of the study, local waste and pollution watchdog EcoWaste Coalition called on the public to help restore the health of Philippine waters.

On World Consumer Rights Day on Sunday (March 15), the coalition called for more awareness, responsibility and action to save the oceans and waterways, particularly from plastic garbage.

“We urge local and national authorities to fully enforce Republic Act No. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, to stop the dumping of trash in the canals and esteros that eventually find their way into the marine ecosystem,” said Manny Calonzo, EcoWaste Coalition president.

To prevent garbage from entering the marine environment, the coalition urged consumers to adopt basic practices in ecological waste management, including waste prevention, reduction, separation at source, recycling reuse and composting.

In 2006, the group together with Greenpeace conducted a joint discards survey of Manila Bay which showed that 76 percent of the garbage in the bay was made of plastic and 51 percent was plastic bags, Calonzo said.

The coalition also urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and National Solid Waste Management Commission to do something about the trash in the oceans.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Forum to tackle pros and cons of renewable energy

Forum to tackle pros and cons of renewable energy
Updated March 05, 2009 12:00 AM

CEBU, Philippines - Aimed at making the public and multi-faceted stakeholders in the community more aware on the potentials as well as the limitations of different options of renewable energy sources, organizers of the upcoming Renewable Energy Forum gave a bird’s eye view of the event during the recently held 888 News Forum.

The upcoming forum, which will be held at Waterfront Hotel and Casino in Lahug this March 6, highlights the importance of understanding both the limitations and the advantages of alternative sources of energy.

One of the event organizers, Rene Alburo said that among the topics that will be discussed in the forum would include issues on the power shortage, renewable energy potentials, green architecture, hydro- power, solar energy, biomass or waste energy, wave power and other environmental issues such as global warming, waste management and among others.

“Renewable energy offers a lot of potential benefits but it also has its serious limitations as well so we need to understand this to fully make use of the technologies and options that are alternative,” said Alburo.

He said that alternative energy can help address our problems on projected energy shortage as well as the worsening problem on waste and global warming.

Alburo said that alternative energy can be used to lessen the cost and spending on fuel and energy.

He made mention of Tayud Consolacion’s use of biomass system in the thermal applications to make egg trays which has lessened its consumption of 600 liters of diesel fuel.

“We are going to have workshops in the afternoon which can identify where and how to reduce the thirst for power of some establishments,” said Alburo.

Meanwhile, environmental activist and executive director of Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center (FIDEC) Vince Cinches said that the forum will be their venue to enlighten the multi-faceted segment of the community about advocacies that concern the environment and options that they can do to help.

“We are going to invite representatives from local government units, governing boards, civil societies, business sector and people from neighboring provinces so that they can replicate similar efforts and start the ball rolling,” he said.

Cinches added that the forum will also be a platform where they can get commitments from different sectors such as the business and the academe which are one of the major consumers of power.

Among the big firms that confirmed to attend the forum include SM City Cebu, Cebu Holdings and schools like the University of San Carlos, among others. —Rhia de Pablo