Albay provincial government to probe Mayon road project | BICOL TODAY

Albay provincial government to probe Mayon road project

Photo courtesy of Cesar Bañares / SAVE Mayon

By Manly M. Ugalde

LEGAZPI CITY. Albay – At least five members of the Albay Provincial Board have joined efforts to conduct investigation surrounding the temporary- halted Mayon Circumferential road project.

Board Member Howard Imperial, chair of Committee on Urban Planning and Land Use, filed a resolution during the provincial board regular session Tuesday at the Capitol, calling for a probe on how the Mayon circumferential road project was realized over absence of public clearance and consultation from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Environmental Clearance Certificate from the Department Environment and Natural Resources and cutting permit.

Joining the probe are Board members Victor Ziga, Jr., Rolly Rosal, Benjamin Imperial, and Jesaf Salceda. Ziga, son and namesake of former Senator Victor Ziga, insisted the Mayon road project needs to be investigated.

The Save Mayon movement led by Cesar Banares, Rommel Aspe and Karina Discaya said the probe, to be conducted by the committee of Howard Imperial, is separate from the probe conducted by the Committee on Environment chaired by Job Belen.

The Save Mayon, said Belen, has already indicated its stand during the first and second hearing of the Committee on Environment in favor of the Mayon road project as an ecotourism project and infra development.

It was not clear if the Committee on Housing and Land Use will ask for a public hearing on the controversy surrounding the Mayon road project being implemented by DPWH.

Former Vice Gov. James Calisin said the virtually unnoticed Mayon project is a clear abuse of discretion of the DPWH, saying that creating a road network at Mt. Mayon may only worsen flooding problem in the lowland areas.

According to Rommel Natanauan, chief of the Bicol Tourism Development and Regulation division, the Mayon project is not included in the Tourism Infrastructure Project which the DENR considered in violation of the National Protected Area System of 1992.

The Mayon road construction began as early as June involving three separate road opening contracts in the villages of Barangay Bonga, Bacacay (P50 million); Barangay San Roque, Malilipot town (P10 million), and Barangay Buang (P49 million), all in Tabaco City.

Gov. Al Francis Bichara had expressed surprised of the project following complaints that the project have encroached inside the 6-kilometer Mayon Permanent Danger Zone, and may only open more entrances to the PDZ which had long been declared as a “no man’s land”.

Bichara also lamented how the project was started without the cutting permit and Environmental Clearance Certificate from the DENR, said his spokesman Danny Garcia.

Bichara, who is the chairman of the Regional Development Council, added the Mayon project did not also pass through the RDC.

With a diameter of 261.4 kilometer, Mayon Volcano has a pending application for inclusion in the list of World Heritage, the dossiers of which have been submitted to the United Nation’s Educational Scientific Organization (Unesco) in France since 2016 for the 2018 consideration.

The board members fear that defacing the originality of Mt. Mayon may affect its consideration for the World Heritage record.

According to DPWH regional legal officer Oliver Rodulfo, the Mayon project is being implemented by the Albay 1st District Engineering, stating the regional office has nothing to do with it.

Rodulfo said every district engineering office has the authority to conduct bidding and implement projects, costing P50 million and below, with the plan and program of works they also prepared.

The regional office conducts bidding and implement projects that are above P50 million, Rodulfo said.

The Save Mayon said the Mayon project was discovered early last October including the cut trees within the project sites. Exposed in the social media, support for the Save Mayon continue to pour in, including from Filipinos abroad.

Former Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Marcial Tuanqui, 71, said his relatives in the United States are also surprised to learn of the Mayon circumferential road project, saying it would only ruin the perfect image of the world’s most perfect cone and beautiful Mayon.

Albay 1st district engineer Simon Arias has denied any knowledge about a proposed Mayon circumferential road, saying what they are constructing are farm- to- market roads.

This despite of radio pronouncements of Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe of Ako Bicol, in radio interviews, who strongly endorses the Mayon project, saying it would create big impact on Albay tourism and infra development. []

Posted by on November 22, 2017. Filed under Bicol News,Headlines. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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