File photo

Citing the investments made by the city government, city tourism officer Aileen Amurao said Wednesday that any new investor of the firefly watching tour inside the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (IPPF) will face problems.

“Tingin ko mahirap kasi may investment ang city dyan. Kaya kung parang ipagagamit o ipapa-lease nila ‘yan I think the Iwahig or kung sino man ‘yan should pay the city government, siyempre malaki-laki ‘yong na-invest ng city for community-based sustainable tourism, di ba? Para nga ‘yan sana sa livelihood ng mga tao para sana makatulong,” Amurao said.

She said she was informed that the Iwahig management allegedly offered the management of the tour to interested investors, but she has no knowledge about their identities or the name of their groups or associations.

“Sinasabi parang in-offer nga nila sa mga interested investors. Parang meron naman ngang nag-submit na interested party, hindi ko alam kung sino. So far, wala namang nag-a-apply ng business permit, I don’t know if mabibigyan nga ng permit,” she added.

Earlier, Levi Evangelista, IPPF spokesperson told Palawan News have expressed interest to take over the management of the tour.

“We want the tour to re-open again because Iwahig became popular because of the habitat of the fireflies. We are still looking for the possible investors to operate it,” he said.

The Iwahig Community Eco-Tourism Multi-Purpose Cooperative (ICEMCO), CBST association under the city government used to operate the firefly tour.

Director Nicanor Faeldon of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) issued a cease and desist order on March 26 on the operation of Iwahig River firefly watching tour

A total of 60 ICEMCO workers lost their jobs in this closure of the tour.

Amurao said it will be the call of the city government to issue them a business permit or not.

Although the city government will not directly block the application of the would-be investor, “it will be so hard for the city government,” Amurao said.

Once the interested investor finally sends their application, Amurao said it will be the time for them to sit down together for a meeting.

“Kung sila gusto nilang kumita, the city also wanted to, ‘yong return of investment. So ano man ang meron silang pinanghahawakan, since na gagamit sila ng ilog, part pa ng Puerto Princesa under the watch of the city government, ng local government unit, merong mga necessary permits na kailnagang i-comply sila… maraming clearances pa ‘yan na dadaanan including the environmental compliance certificate,” Amurao said.