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Freeman Region

Coastal village residents protest any change of marine sanctuary

Juancho R. Gallarde - The Freeman

DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines — Residents of the coastal barangay of Looc in this city had voiced their objection to any attempt of moving or reducing the size of their Marine Protected Area, which was declared a marine sanctuary by a city ordinance.

Led by their village chief Angelita Ragay, Looc residents and fishermen, headed by Jameson Rubio, trooped to the City Hall's session hall to air their opposition to the planned alterations of the MPA.

Ragay said an ordinance was enacted to set up the protected area for rehabilitation or replenishment of the fishery and coastal resources in the area, which in turn ensures food security and livelihood of fishermen on top of protecting and preserving the remaining coral reefs there.

Earlier, the Dumaguete Pilot Association, headed by Capt Butch Rebonanza, wrote the City Council asking for an adjustment of the marker buoys, so as not to entangle the propellers of inter-island passenger vessels that regularly calls the Dumaguete port.

The DPA specifically requested for a 15- to 20-meter set back going north, to allow more leeway for passenger vessels to maneuver without the threat of damaging the ships and the markers.

Rebonanza further claimed the DPA had refused requests for at least two cruise ships to dock at the city port earlier this year due to the MPA, which was considered a navigational hazard.

This claim was however refuted by Ragay, who said it was the first time she heard such because no cruise ship would ever dare to call the port of Dumaguete because of its capacity.

Ragay suggested instead to the PPA to extend the pier fingers toward the sea to allow cruise ships to dock. She sensed that PPA has been expanding the port by reclaiming northward, thus the need to deal first with the sanctuary.

City administrator William Ablong, for his part, also expressed his opposition to the DPA request because it will be disadvantageous to the fishermen and the environment, while affecting the food security program of the national government.

Ablong said that moving or realigning one marker to another would mean changing the GPS coordinates, dimensions, delineations, buffer zones and the like,  with a considerable amount of money spent for the conduct of a scientific study by experts from Silliman University.

Due to the clash of interests, the City Council created an ad hoc committee, to be chaired by Vice Mayor Woodrow Maquiling, to make a study and recommend solutions to the existing problem.   (FREEMAN)

ANGELITA RAGAY

CAPT BUTCH REBONANZA

CITY

CITY COUNCIL

CITY HALL

DUMAGUETE

DUMAGUETE PILOT ASSOCIATION

JAMESON RUBIO

LOOC

MARINE PROTECTED AREA

RAGAY

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