Over 900 mangrove propagules were planted Thursday morning by personnel of the Coast Guard District Palawan (CGDP), other law enforcement agencies, and village officials at Sitio Bucana, Barangay Matahimik.
The number of people that participated reached about 500.
They planted the propagules along the coast of Matahimik, a resettlement community that recently became controversial because of illegal settlers who have crept into the mangroves.
Commodore Allan Corpuz said they intend to do the mangrove planting activity regularly despite the pandemic.
He said they selected Matahimik as the site of their first mangrove planting activity
“Nasimulan na natin ito at gagawin natin itong regular. Hindi man maging monthly, gagawin natin ito dapat na regular activity. Ang pagkakaroon ng COVID-19 ay sana ay hindi maging hadlang para mapangalagaan natin ang ating kalikasan. It is everybody’s responsibility, we must move on, simulan natin ito,” he said.
Corpuz said they have observed that some areas that needed to be protected have been neglected and as Coast Guards, it is part of their mandate to help protect them and the marine environment.
“Ang Coast Guard kasi isa sa mga trabaho namin ay marine environmental protection at naano ko yan dahil hindi lang sa trabaho ng coast guard yan but a lot of concern, napansin ko para bang napabayaan din yong mga ibang mangilan-ngilang mga lugar at yan ay napag-usapan namin na hindi lang ang mga pulis ang kasama. Pati yong sa Navy at sa Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) nagpunta ako sa kanila ng sa ganoon ay maisagawa nga ang programang ito,” he said.
Corpuz mentioned that the Bucana-Matahimik was selected due to the impact on the environment of some of the issues that recently happened.
They were supposed to do the mangrove planting activity in the exact site where the homes of the illegal settlers were demolished, but since it has an ongoing case, they opted to do it somewhere near.
“Naghanap talaga kami ng site kung saan may impact siya, alam naman natin na noong nakaraan lamang ay ‘yon nga hindi naging maganda yong pananaw ng mga tao sa lugar na ito [dahil] sa isang opisyal ng gobyerno. Para naman ma-iano ‘yon, alam naman natin na hindi naman lahat, of course, maaaring siya lamang at ito ay may impact at sana naman maging paalala na rin ito sa iba pang manunungkulan na dapat iwasan ang ganoong mga gawain,” he said.
“Ang sabi nga ng chief of police kanina, o yong challenge ni Kgd. (Elgin) Damasco ang next nating dapat taninam yong kinalbo, ‘yong ano… ganoon lang. Well, dapat doon nga tayo, kaya lang alam natin na may kaso pa ‘yon. But marami pang lugar na dapat tamnan napakarami po and I believe that it is everybody’s concern,” he said.
He also said that after P/Col. Sergio Vivar Jr.’s quarantine, he had challenged the newly-installed city chief of police to support the mangrove planting, specifically in the area which was greatly affected by the illegal cutting of mangrove trees.
“Chinallege ko ‘yong chief of police kanina, nagkataon lang na brother ko siya sa mason, at talagang pagdating niya palang dito pagkatapos ng quarantine niya dinalaw ko kaagad siya at sinabi ko sa kanya na mag-te-tree planting tayo doon. Kung saan yong nakalbo, alam na niya yon, with that challenge, ‘yon nga tinanggap niya kanina sabi ko magsalita ka ng kunti at sabihin mo ikaw ang sponsor ng susunod,” he said.
Vivar, on the other hand, said he is ready for the challenge knowing how the Puerto Princesa City Police Office (PPCPO) had been dragged in the controversy.
Vivar also said upon the conduct of the mangrove activity, the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the city, under his supervision will aid in environmental protection and will be hosting the next mangrove planting in the area.
“Napakalaking challenge po sa atin dahil sa nagdaang mga panahon ay medyo nadungis ang pangalan ng aking uniporme. Yan ang aking challenge na hinaharap. Kaya challenge accepted,” he said.
“Ngayong araw na ito, hindi lang bakawan ang tinatanim naming mga kapulisan, itatanim din namin ang pakikiisa, ang pagtataguyod at pangangalaga ng kalikasan, ‘yon po ang aming masasabi at sa susunod pong sponsorship ng pagtatanim ng bakawan, ang PNP sa akin pong pamamahala ang magiging sponsor,” he said.
Last month, some structures built in mangrove areas in Bucana-Matahimik were demolished including the ones said to be owned by former police city director, P/Col. Marion Balonglong which currently facing some charges filed by the DENR.