MANILA: Despite strong opposition from a militant group, a senior cabinet official on Wednesday said the government was determined to pursue the “no build” order along coastlines especially in the danger zones ravaged by monster typhoon Haiyan in the Visayas.
Secretary Ramon Paje of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) reported that a vital part of the plan was the allocation of $8 million to reforest the country’s fast-vanishing mangroves and natural beach forests.
Paje stressed that bringing back mangroves and beach forests was a key factor in disaster-preparedness and risk reduction against tsunamis and storm surges as evidenced by the devastation inflicted by Haiyan (local codename Yolanda) especially on the island provinces of Leyte and Samar in early November.
The $8 million, Paje said, would be used to rehabilitate the mangroves totalling 1,900 kilometres of coastlines under the government’s National Greening Programme.
Last week, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino ordered the implementation of “no build” policy especially along danger zones in the country’s coastlines which total more than 36,000 kilometres, one of the world’s longest, because of its archipelagic character of 7,000 islands.
Under the policy, Paje explained the erection of houses and other structures along coastlines with mangroves would henceforth be banned with the affected residents to be resettled to safer areas.
“Unfortunately, most of the mangroves were destroyed to give way to informal settler communities or development projects,” Paje said.
However, a militant group Pamalakaya opposed the order, warning it would affect from nine to 10 million people who depend on fishing as their main source of livelihood.
Salvador France, the Pamalakaya spokesman, said the most affected would be fishermen from the provinces of Leyte, Samar, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidential and Capiz in the Visayas as well as those in Mindoro Oriental and Mindoro Occidental in Southern Luzon.
But Paje countered the country should learn from the painful lessons from Haiyan that ravaged the Visayas and another super typhoon Bopha (local codename Pablo) that slammed into Mindanao in December 2012.
Paje also assured the $8 million would be used for a cash-for-work programme by employing the affected fishermen in the rehabilitation of the country’s damaged mangroves and natural beach forests.
Source: Gulf News