Some private investors have reportedly expressed interest in taking over the management of the Iwahig River firefly watching tour inside the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (IPPF) that had recently been ordered closed by prison authorities.
Levi Evangelista, IPPF spokesperson, said the investors are from Palawan but he declined to give additional details about their identities, adding that they are currently under negotiations.
“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.
Evangelista said any interested investor may apply for managing the firefly watching tour as long as they have papers and permits,
“We will recommend them to the national office for approval,” he said.
The final decision will be made by the main office of the Bureau of Corrections, he said. He added that a major consideration is the percentage share that IPPF will receive once the tour reopens.
“Bagong management at magsi-set ng new rules and of course, number one din dyan ang security ng mga turista, ‘yung magma-man dyan such as boatman. Sisiguraduhin na well-trained hindi naman basta-basta na kung sino lang at yong treatment sa turista ay maganda, may mga screening,” he said.
The Iwahig Community Eco-Tourism Multi-Purpose Cooperative (ICEMCO) used to operate the firefly tour.
But, after the Commission on Audit found out that the IPPF was not receiving any percentage share, BuCor Director Nicanor Faeldon issued a cease and desist order on the operation of Iwahig River firefly watching tour on March 26.
A total of 60 workers lost their jobs with the closure of the tour, Evangelista said.
“We will retrain the qualified boatmen. They will be our priority when the tour re-opens,” he added.