EVEN THE PRESIDENTÂ of the greatest nation on earth and the Spiritual Leader of Â the biggest religious congregation in the world Â have the “Environment” as Â one of the top concerns on their agenda.
President Barrack Obama of the United States of America and Pope Francis of the Vatican, spiritual capital of the vast Roman Catholic Church had repeated such concern on Â far too many occasions for man to miss the full import of their anxious positions.
Man has damaged in gay abandon an Earth that has sustained life for millions of years. Nature has Â often answered back violently for man’s degradation and benign neglect of the environment both.
Environment /ecology should, therefore, also Â be a prime concern in Bohol being a top tourist destination and Â an agricultural province.Â Neglect of the environment will harm both front- running industries of the province.
A tourist jewel of a Â Bohol once left Â ecologically unattended will be gone sooner than we expect. Let us cite one example.
This is the world famous diving haven – Balicasag. Its found in all dive books simply because of what it caters to the various fancies Â of demanding Â dive enthusiasts, Its reality Â today is the image of Â an Â island beset by rampaging Â growing population relative to its land mass.Â In fact, there are now permanent concrete structures and houses mushrooming across the once barren Â tourist haven.
Aside from the unabated population explosion Â in the island, the problem on sanitation is worsening. In fact, the greatest risk the place is exposing itself is through the Â unsupervised selling of ambulant food to tourists in the shorelines. Just one poisoning incident will destroy the destination’s reputation, no question. What a loss that would be.
To begin with- there is still the Â unresolved ownership issue Â of the island which Â remains as a legal battle Â between the local government unit (LGU) and the Philippine Navy. No surprise then that its environmental management is without focus. There is no clear steward, that’s why.
Years ago, there was the Bohol Marine Triangle (BMT) which exerted efforts to preserve the island. But, despite all its efforts, the island continued with her several malpractices now causing the deterioration of its condition.Â The Â absence of a group perennially Â looking at its present condition presents a graver “clear and present danger.”
We know for a fact that the Â Panglao LGU is doing all its effort to regulate the volume of divers in order to preserve the underwater condition of Balicasag-a major move to thereby also Â preserve the island from further destruction. But, there is an issue which surfaced lately on the manner the fees are being handled by the LGU as exposed by the Commission on Audit *(COA).
The tourists are told they are “environmental fees” and “snorkeling fees”- so where have been the P10 Million collected fees used(?) the gatekeeper COA is appropriately asking.
There have also been reports likewise Â from some Â environmental activists that there are signs Â that tons of waste are being Â released Â to the Panglao sea waters judging by the poor quality of the water in some areas. Is this true, Mr DENR?
One other way to keep one destination from being “over visited” would be for Bohol to develop more tourist sites for them Â to become part of Â a veritable class A “Tourism Hub”. But to get to those new destinations, there must be safe, maneuverable roads first.
The Â case of the scenic Can-umantad Falls and Rice Terraces in Candijay,is Â just one Â disgusting Â proof Â why Â is looks Â like the government seems to have reneged in giving a Â serious look into Â new Â potential tourist destinations The road today – aside from being a single lane pavement, Â is very rough to navigate. The idyllic site may die sooner before it is Â allowed to blossom, such a pity.
There are Â also other towns in the province we heard whose rivers -once a source of potable water and fishing are in danger of extinction due to small scale mining and excavation of stones from Â the area. Is anyone minding the store?
Much of our 5 kilometer fishing area at sea has been over-fished by visiting Â trawlers and big-time fishers. Our Coast Guard woefully lacks the equipment to police our maritime resources although a new project has been prioritized to arm the agency to the teeth-and about time. But there is a good sign too,
Ever wondered why Bohol has such robust source of potable water (good for the next 60 years) and our irrigation system made us an exporter of rice? Many years ago, Â a feisty woman inked a deal with then governor the late Rico Aumentado to reforest the watershed of our major rivers.
That woman is a billionaire belonging to a rich Filipino family -but cared for the environment more than she did Â their billions.Â She started the long-running “Bantay Kalikasan” movement Â , Â the prime mover as well of the Pasig Â River Restoration movement. Now the murky river is starting to change Â color and breathing life.
That woman is Madame Gina Lopez.Â Aren’t we glad she is our Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources?Â The Gatekeeper of the nation’s Mother Nature.
Let us honor her patriotism but doing our share in protecting and preserving our own Bohol Â environment.
It is a legacy-our parents left for us- Â for us to hand over as clean as it was given- to our children.
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