Albay SP approves measures for Mayon protection | BICOL TODAY

Albay SP approves measures for Mayon protection

Photo courtesy of Cesar Bañares / SAVE Mayon

By Manly M. Ugalde

LEGAZPI CITY – The probe conducted by the Albay Sangguniang Panlalawigan Committee on Urban Housing and Land Use concerning the assailed construction of the Mayon circumferential road got a unanimous vote of approval to adopt the laws governing the preservation and protection of the protected areas at the world-most perfect-cone Mayon Volcano.

In addition, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan also recommended that any proposed projects around Mayon by the DPWH or any agencies shall first obtain clearances from Phivolcs, DENR, DOT, Albay Tourism Office, and the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office, according to Board Member Howard Imperial, chair Committee on Urban Housing and Land Use that investigated the Mayon scandal

But the Save Mayon Movement (SMM) described the probe recommendation as weak or wishy-washy designed not to damage political figures behind the funding and hasty implementation of the initial P125 million Mayon road opening projects slammed by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and Albayanos through the social media.

The barely unheard Mayon alternate circumferential project was started by the Department of Public Works and Highways Albay 1st District Engineering in June sans any clearance or knowledge from Phivolcs and permits from DENR such as the mandatory cutting permit and Environmental Clearance Certificate. The project came to public knowledge only after it was exposed in the social media early in October.

A Cease and Desist Order have been issued by the DENR claiming it had also recovered close to 9,000 board feet of cut trees and logs in the project sites found to have encroached the Mayon Protected Area.

SMM claimed the project is the jump-start of the estimated P7 billion alternate circumferential road around Mayon measuring 264-kilometers in diameter.

Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe of Ako Bicol in many radio interviews backed the project as eco-tourism and infra-development that would strongly promote tourism with Mt. Mayon appearing at night like a Christmas tree.

But DPWH officials refused to call the project as Mayon circumferential road. District Engineer Simon Arias of Albay 1st District Engineering told the media that what his office is constructing are simply farmed to market roads saying he’s not aware of any proposed Mayon circumferential road. The four road opening projects horizontal in nature started at the village of Barangay Bonga (P50 M) Bacacay town, Barangay San Roque (P10 M), Malilipot town, Barangay Magapo P25 M) Tabaco City, (Barangay Buang (P40.5 M) Tabaco City.

Imperial said documents furnished his committee by DPWH regional legal officer Oliver Rodulfo, however, did not mention any “road opening” projects at Mayon. He said that the name of projects in the documents his committee received listed the four projects as the “construction of Mayon Eco-Park (P50 M), San Roque Road Improvement (P10 M), Construction of Mayon Eco Road Magapo section (P25 M), Tabaco City, and Construction of Missing Gaps P(40.5 M), Tabaco.

Phivolcs and DENR worry that the project may only worsen flooding in the lowland.

The Department of Tourism also issued a statement that the Mayon road construction was not part of the Tourism Infrastructure Priority projects.

Earlier, the SP Committee on Environment chaired by Job Belen also conducted its own probe about the Mayon project. SMM founding member Cesar Banares strongly criticized the committee findings as too weak for consideration. Banares said SMM have been receiving feedbacks from Filipinos in foreign countries expressing surprise about the Mayon construction that would only destroy the natural beauty of Mayon God had given us.

According to Imperial, his unanimously approved resolution would not and has not recognized any proposed construction activities at Mayon saying preservation of the protected areas and Mayon as a whole should stay. He said the Mayon 6-km PDZ declared as “no man’s land” should be completely free from any human activity adding while the government is spending money to relocate residents around Mayon in resettlement areas, road constructions in the volcano would only invite inhabitants and destroy the resettlement efforts.

Imperial also cited that the United Nation’s Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) has already included Mayon for inclusion in the Book of World Heritage for 2018 and any infrastructure activity in the volcano may only affect that application.

Phivolcs Mayon resident volcanologist Ed Laguerta said that in many cases, Mayon residents outside the no man’s land 6-km PDZ and within the within the 8-kilometer danger zone are forcibly included in the evacuation depending on the gravity of Mayon eruption. Laguerta reminded Albayanos about the 1993 major Mayon eruption that occurred lunch period under a perfect weather condition which killed more than 80 farmers at the Legazpi barangay Mabinit. Some of the casualties were children who skipped classes to join their parents in harvesting crops. He said the 1993 eruption did not show any signs of Mayon abnormality.

Board member Imperial said his committee will also asked the DPWH to furnish his committee the program of works and plans concerning the four road opening projects to find out whether the DPWH have ever conducted validation of the projects and how it was hastily implemented without the mandatory permits. He said his office has received reports the projects were already paid some 30 percent.

The Imperial initiated probe of the Mayon scandal was initially treated with a cold reception from the SP members until four SP members surfaced indicating their support for the separate probe. It was a surprised the result during the held session last week was unanimous for the protection of Mayon, said retired banker and former president of the Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Marcial Tuanqui.

Posted by on January 2, 2018. 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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