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Saturday, December 14, 2013

A “Green Wall” is to rise along Cebu’s coastline savaged by super typhoon “Yolanda.”

It’ll cover the islands of Bantayan and Camotes, Medellin, Bogo City, Daanbantayan, San Remegio plus parts of northern Cebu.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources hurriedlty “reconfigured” it’s P6.2 billion National Greening Program budge. It stitched in P10 million “Work-for-Food program” to help restore mangroves in Eastern Visayas, DENR 7 Regional Executive Director Isabelo Montejo told Sun.Star Cebu. They’ll buffer against future storms.

Until “Yolanda,” most local governments razed mangroves or paved them with concrete.

But “MacArthur village in Eastern Samar was buffered by a sturdy mangrove stand,” notes Dr. Jur­gene Primavera. In 2008, Time magazine named her among the world’s top 100 environmental scienrtists.

“Lush mangroves in Molocaboc, Sagay, Negros Oriental shielded residents from the storm surge," she adds. The wasteland of Tacloban and other towns, without greenbelts, provide the evidence.”

Nurseries will be set up in Bantayan and Camotes. A third will rise in northern Cebu.

More than million seedlings and propagules raised are to be planted in over 185 hectares of coastal areas. If protected until 2016, the mangroves could be a "Green Wall."

We have a graveyard of "dead laws." Greenbelts are mandated by Presidential Decrees 705 and 953 to DENR Administrative Order 76 of 1987. Even the 1998 Fisheries Code (Republic Act 8850) requires greenbelts along fishpond dikes. But they've been observed more in the breach than in compliance.

“Facts do not cease because they are ignored,” the scientist Aldous Huxley warned. And if a December 12 newscast is right, facts are being brushed aside. “It. showed houses being rebuilt in exactly the same vulnerable places obliterated by the storm surge.”

“Did not President Benigno Aquino declare that coastal areas were to be No-Build zones?" Primavera asked. If this continues, a repeat of the Yolanda death is being written now.

“In the aftermath of Typhoon Pedring, a 1.4-kilometer section of the Manila seawall was rebuilt at almost P100 million. (It’s) all gray infrastructure with no touch of green.” The 296-hecatre South Reclamation Project in Cebu is bare of trees, 18 years after it was started.

Local Government Units (LGUs) have to think in terms of interventions – early warning systems, elevated shelters, mangrove planting guided by science-based protocols, and long term public education. “The President showed early signs of political will when he declared coastal sites as No-Build zones.”

To replace the inutile greenbelt stipulations (stashed) in forgettable sections of unenforced regulations, Congress should enact a National Greenbelt Law. This will help the Executive branch to convince owners of commercial buildings, beach resorts and settlements along seafront to relocate so that greenbelts can be put in place.

Finally, the government should purchase land. Use the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) budgets for the resettlement of low-income fishers and other coastal folk with no resources to move out of harm’s way"

Will Congress seek to recover it’s control over pork barrel after today’s scam ebbs? “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp? Or what’s a heaven for.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 15, 2013.


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