Mayor Cervantes explains Toto Port controversy in Busuanga town

A map of Busuanga town made by concerned citizen and former Busuanga resident Jaypee Daco. The "approved site" is in Sitio Toto, Barangay New Busuanga, and the "present site" is in Putod, Barangay Salvacion. | Photo courtesy of Jaypee Daco

Busuanga Mayor Beth Cervantes said the construction of Toto Port in Barangay New Busuanga was hampered by issues involving titled property disputes that affected the right of way to the port area.

Cervantes issued the explanation in response to online criticisms that came out as a major ferry service began plying Manila-Busuanga route even though the port construction was not yet completed

Cervantes responded by explaining the reasons why the Toto Port in New Busuanga did not push through despite the project already being approved by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).

The main issues included some titled land property disputes that affect the right of way to the area of the port project. Because of this obstacle, the local government unit (LGU) proceeded to construct in Putod’s already existing port, which was smaller at the time.

“The construction of Toto Port was initiated by the locals and the project was approved by the PPA. Kaya lang, isa sa mga requirements ng PPA ay dapat may right of way. Mayroong seven families na may property na apektado ng right of way, kaso, tatlo sa mga properties may kaso pala. Kaya hindi maka-proceed ang project,” said Cervantes in an interview Monday.

This came after a viral social media post made rounds because it questioned the location of the present port in Putod, Barangay Salvacion, citing several issues such as shallow waters that prevent smaller boats from docking.

“So in 2017, nalaman ng LGU na mayroon na palang na-program na P20-millon para sa construction ng port, pero hindi kasi na-indicate kung saan ang construction. Hindi rin maka-proceed sa Sitio Toto dahil nga sa problema sa mga titulo, at sayang din kasi ang budget kung hindi ia-avail. Kaya napunta sa Putod Pier, matagal na kasing ginagamit ‘yon,” she added.

Cervantes assured that the Toto Port will still be built as soon as the titled property disputes have been settled.

“Ongoing pa naman ‘yong project, hindi ibig sabihin na nagawa na ang Putod Port, hindi na tuloy ang project. Basta mare-program ulit ang budget at maayos ang mga problema sa mga properties,” she said.

A viral post by concerned citizen Jaypee Daco questioned the Busuanga LGU’s decision to build the Putod Port despite the locals’ appeal to build in Sitio Toto, since the area is close to tourism sites such as the Calauit Safari Park. He added several issues such as the shallow waters in the area that prevent smaller boats from docking at the port.

“Na-approve kasi ‘yon ng PPA kaya nagtataka ako bakit sa Putod Pier pa rin natuloy ang project. Sa Toto, mas malalim ang dagat doon, puwedeng dumaong ang mga cruise ship. Pero sa Putod, kapag low tide, hindi nakakadaong ang mga maliliit na bangka,”Daco told Palawan News in a series of interviews.

Daco, who spent his childhood in Busuanga, explained that he was compelled to question the project because of his concern for his hometown. He added that building a port in Sitio Toto would have been an opportunity for local fishermen to drop their catch so it could be shipped to Metro Manila.

“Hindi ko intensyon na manira. Bilang isang concerned citizen, gusto ko matugunan ito para sa ikauunlad ng Busuanga,” he added.

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