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Environmentalists oppose coastal road

March 4 - 10, 2017

MAASIN CITY - A group of environmentalists and netizens are highly critical of the proposed 4.7 kilometer coastal bypass road planned by the national government, whose primary purpose is to decongest traffic in the city.

“Barug Maasin,” a non-stock, nonprofit and non-governmental organization (NGO) whose objectives include the protection and conservation of the environment, voiced its stiff opposition against the road project. The NGO based its opposition on the provisions of the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 or Republic Act 8550. The law clearly prohibits the destruction of the marine ecosystem and biodiversity. The delicate condition of the existing mangroves and coral reefs, that will be directly affected if the project pushes through, shall be aggravated.

Atty. Gerry Dator, Barug’s legal consultant, disclosed that the environmental group will file a manifesto or a proper petition, expressing vehement opposition, addressed to Secretary Gina Lopez of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), BFAR Chief Commodore Eduardo Gongona, independent organization Greenpeace PH and even Maasin-born

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to scrap the proposed bypass road project. The environmental advocates believe that the road project which has a land reclamation element will damage further Maasin City’s coastal habitat and eco-system, and will also block the natural pathways of the sea waves directly to the mangrove areas. The NGO said that the loss of the city’s remaining mangrove forests which are found along the coastlines of barangays Lib-og and Combado will threaten the city’s food security and livelihood of local fishermen because of the destruction of the fish’s breeding sites, which are the mangroves.

Mangroves and coral reefs, which protect the shorelines and prevent erosion by stabilizing sediments, serve also as sanctuaries and breeding sites of some sea creatures and species.

Well-known environmentalist Art Siga said the bypass project would pose deadly risks to many Maasinhons including danger of storm surges, land subsidence and further degredation to Maasin’s remaining coastal ecosystems.

The environmental group claimed that Maasin City does not need a coastal bypass road because the volume of traffic in Maasin City is not that heavy, unlike in highly urbanized cities. And that issues such as the use of the widened roads along Ruperto Kangleon and Tomas Oppus streets as parking spaces by some car owners and the re-routing of pot-pot vehicles should first be addressed. According to Barug, traffic in the city calls for good management.

Meanwhile, DPWH Southern Leyte District Chief Ma. Margarita Junia said that issues raised concerning environment aspect were also considered by their agency’s feasibility study which was conducted by experts and consultants.

“Environmental concerns were part of the feasibility study. Let’s wait for the result,” Junia concluded in a text message.(By MARK L. RIMAS)






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