• Mangrove destruction alarms Bataan fishermen

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    ORION, Bataan: About 3,000 fishermen from 11 coastal villages of this town are alarmed by the destruction of full-grown mangroves, seedlings and other species in a foreshore area adjacent to the planned dockyard here where backfill works are ongoing.

    The fisherfolk decried the blatant disregard for their source of livelihood and the protection of the environment as workers refill the mangrove area. The backfilling started in June last year.

    The proposed Orion Dockyard is located in a five-hectare titled property in Brgy. Santa Elena. It was reportedly owned by Vic Ignacio but was not immediately known if he has other business partners.

    Orion Mayor Antonio Raymundo said he has issued a cease-and-desist order to temporarily stop the backfilling in the four-hectare public land – a foreshore area – adjacent to the five-hectare titled property of the dockyard. About 1.2 hectares has already been backfilled.

    The local government is set to file a P300-million suit against its owners for the 3,000 full-grown mangroves destroyed.

    Raymundo pointed out he was not against the backfilling in the private property but on the encroachment upon the foreshore area.

    “I welcome investors but I am concerned of the environment that should be protected and not harmed,” he said.

    Renel Capacite, chairman of the municipal fisheries and aquatic resources management council (Mfarmc), said mangroves and the shoreline must be protected since it is the breeding ground for seafood and other marine products.

    Aside from being hatching habitat for fishes, shells and crabs, mangroves serve as protection against strong waves.

    Alfredo Hernandez, fishery extension worker, said that based on their assessment the damaged area consisted of 3,000 full-grown mangroves and more than 16,000 saplings.

    Six units aqua-silvi project worth P360,000 each were also destroyed. The project, spearheaded by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, is being managed by the Mfarmc since 2010.

    The project is practically a crab farm where the crustacean is grown in fishnets in the mangrove area.

    Even Bataan Bishop Ruperto Santos expressed the concern of the Balanga Diocese over the supposed effects of the project.

    “The diocese is very much alarmed and worried with what has been done in Santa Elena with the construction of the Orion dockyard. It poses danger to the children, disturbs their studies and impacts on their health because of the sand and copper blasting while the destruction of the mangroves is an exploitation of the environment,” the prelate said.

    Santos said the Diocese stands firm in protecting the land and the sea.

    Similarly, officials of St. Francis School of Bataan, adjacent to the planned Orion dockyard complained of thick dust and constant ground shaking from the ongoing works.

    Sister Paola, sister superior of the school, said some 172 students staff are exposed to possible respiratory diseases from the dust emanating from backfill works.

    She said even parents are concern over the health of their children, some have medical certificates showing breathing problems of the children.

    The Manila Times tried to get the side of Orion dockyard but no one on the site was authorized to speak to the press.

    A sign on the fence says the work in the area has an Environment Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the Environment Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (EMB-DENR).

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