Ex-Bataan mayor to OK stalled plan

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ORION, Bataan: A former mayor here on Thursday said that if he wins, he will give the go-signal for the implementation of giant investments that will spur economic development in the town once he gets re-elected.

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Jose “Pepe” Santos, mayor of the municipality from 2010 to 2013, said he will permit the Orion dockyard and a waste-to-energy power plant with U.S. technology to start operating.

“We are after the creation of employment opportunities and generation of more revenues from investors that the municipality needs badly,” Santos, a retired member of the American Navy said.

Santos is eyeing the mayorship under the Liberal Party opposite re-electionist Mayor Antonio “Tonypep” Raymundo of the National Unity Party.

Last December, Raymundo ordered the Orion dockyard to cease and desist from continuing with its ground works and demanded payment for century-old mangroves allegedly destroyed in the area.

The incumbent mayor, however, made it clear that he was not opposed to the dockyard but that he was only against the destruction of mangroves and the environment.

“Dapat managot ang Orion dockyard sa pagkasira ng mga bakawan, [They should own up to the destruction of the mangroves]” he said.

Raymundo claimed that destroyed during the backfilling of the titled five-hectare land of the dockyard were about 3,000 full-grown mangroves in 1.2 hectares, a portion of the four-hectare public land in Barangay Sta. Elena which is separate from the titled property.

Santos, however, argued that Local Government Units spend time and money to attract investors.

“Here comes an investor voluntarily wanting to create a multi-million peso investment, why stop it? In every development, there are sacrifices,” he said.

Santos added that in many provinces, road widening is implemented where century-old trees have to be knocked down. “We have to sacrifice something to gain a lot,” he said.

Santos said the investor should instead be required to replace one old tree with thousands of seedlings.

“May replacement na, may revenues at employment pa para sa mga taga-Orion, [We not only get replacements but revenues and employment as well]” he said, adding that the violation should be the concern of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

“There is no source of employment in Orion and the dockyard will be a big help,” he said.

On the waste-to-energy power plant, he said that it should have been started should he had won in his second term. With his loss, the investor allegedly backed out. “Pero, kapag nanalo ako, 100 per cent itutuloy ito, [It will proceed 100 per cent once I win]” he said.

Santos said the power plant with initial $500 million investment will be the first in the Philippines that will solve the garbage problem. He said the plant will also produce organic fertilizers and light building hollow blocks.

“Funds are available and once I win, a proto-type will be built in Barangay Puting Buhangin in Orion as model,” he said.

Ernie Esconde

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