No matter how innovative something may be, if it i a threat to the environment, is it really worth pursuing? Or some adjustments should be made?
Much like in the case for the much-awaited Subic-Clark Railway Project where about 42 hectares of mangrove forest within the watershed reserve of Subic Bay Freeport is at risk. (Read: Skyway 3 Opens in December With No Toll Fee for 1 Month)
According to an Inquirer report, the mangrove forest would have to make way for the railway project unless China Harbour Engineering Company, the Chinese company handling the construction, alters its proposed track alignment.
The area (the 30-ha Binictican-Malawaan patch and the 12-ha Boton site of the freeport’s 62-ha mangroves) is protected by Proclamation No. 926 issued in 1992 by former President Corazon Aquino.
An Alarming Issue
The development has alarmed Save Subic Bay Mangroves Coalition (SVMC), which has now asked the government to construct the project away from the mangroves. (Read: 5 Facts About the Disputed Vaccination Site in Nayong Pilipino)
“We are not antiprogress. What we are asking [the] proponents is to change the project’s alignment away from mangroves, forests, water sources, and population. The [affected] 42-has is part of the last remaining mangrove stand in Subic Bay and to put a railway through there does not make any sense,” said Jen Velarmino-van der Heijde, SBMC spokesperson, on Sunday.
Aside from destroying the mangroves, China Harbour is also proposing a Subic Logistics Terminal on a portion of Aeta ancestral domain. But the tribal community has supposedly consented to the project, the Inquirer says.
The mangroves in the freeport serve as a natural laboratory for research and sustain the fishes and other marine life living in the area. It also acts as a buffer between the land and sea.
Moreover, the mangroves are wildlife refuge and feeding grounds for Philippine mallards and also help in ecotourism as it is also a recreational ground for bird-watching and the observation of other wildlife. (Read: From Vatican: The Little Railway that Could)
The mangroves are also sources of food, low-cost housing materials, and potential retail products for the Aeta community.
The railway project, which was approved by the National Economic Development Authority in 2018, is part of the Duterte Administration’s “Build, Build, Build.”