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Senate urged to look into coral vandalism


CEBU, Philippines - Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago is asking the Senate to conduct an inquiry into reports of vandalism in coral reefs in Lapu-Lapu City.

Santiago, who filed a Senate Resolution to investigate the matter, was reacting to reports by GMA News Online on February 18, 2014 on the underwater graffiti found in a coral reef in Lapu-Lapu City.

The vandalism was found by Task Force Kalikasan (TFK) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The report came after The Freeman photographer and diver, Ferdinand Edralin, documented the vandalism on the corals. Edralin’s photo landed on page one of this paper last February 17.

Santiago stated that Congress should look into this illegal activity despite the implementation of various laws protecting marine wildlife in the country.

The TFK reported that the graffiti were chemically etched on several plate corals in Barangay Maribago’s Kontiki Wall.

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The report noted that several of the writings were in “hangul,” the native writing language of Koreans, while many of the words featured names of various divers.

According to TFK officers, the chemicals used to vandalize the corals have harmful elements that may affect marine life beyond the coral lines.

On the same note, Lapu-Lapu City officials, as well as representatives of various national agencies, private sectors and business organizations have signed a covenant to call for the stop of the destruction of the corals.

 “We were all shocked to see on the front page of The Freeman one day, a startling picture by underwater photographer Ferdinand Edralin, of a coral defaced, vandalized and hurt by an irresponsible scuba diver,” Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza expressed.

Radaza said that she is not the only one angered by this illegal activity. “I have also seen how the netizens including a lot of you here have expressed their anger on Facebook when the word got out online.”

Alex Yongki Lee, representative of the Korean Travel Group based in Lapu-Lapu City, appealed for forgiveness regarding the possibility that the vandalisms were made by Koreans.

He said they would educate further their members and will fully support the city government’s campaign to strengthen programs on protecting marine wildlife and their habitat.

Andy Berame, coordinator of the Task Force Kalikasan in Lapu-Lapu City, expressed gratitude for the support of different sectors in the drive against any form of coral destruction. — (FREEMAN)


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