Mayor Lucilo R. Bayron, along with city and barangay officials, partner organizations and stakeholders, launched the “Save the Puerto Princesa Bay Project” on early morning of Saturday, July 15 in the coastal area of Old Buncag, Barangay Mandaragat by mobilizing activities that showed community cohesiveness such as coastal clean up, scoop basura, tree and mangrove planting, and EM mudball throwing in water bodies.
The participants from different agencies and organizations, both from the government and private sector, packed the venue.
Mayor Bayron emphasized that the city government worked hard to acquire land for the relocation of informal settlers because they are exposed to climate change risks of rising sea level and other hazards.
“Itong bay na ito ay naka-attract ang mga tao. Ang usad ng panahon, may naging residente tayo na tumira sa mga coastal area sa loob ng bay, isang danger zone. At isa pa, hindi naman mapapasa kanila ang mga lupa na yan kasi ito ay nasa coastal area salvage zones at sila nailalagay sa delikadong sitwasyon,” Bayron said.
Mayor Bayron explained that among the potentials of the city in sustaining its cleanup effort for Puerto Princesa Bay is to attract tourists and visitors for water sports events not only local but international competitions. He said that the city hosted the IronMan event last year, with another IronMan this November 2023. They also eyed the Dragon Boat Race event in the bay.
He warned that doing it in the future might be too late, “Huwag na nating antayin na umabot pa tayo sa pondo na hindi na natin kayang salbarin ang bay, ngayon palang ay kumilos na tayo dahil mayron pang panahon na iligtas natin sila mula sa polusyon,” he adds.
During the program, the participants signed the Commitment Wall manifesting and showing the support to the project.
Mayor Bayron, Vice Mayor Nancy Socrates and other city officials threw EM mudballs in an estuary within Old Buncag. EM mudball is a low-cost wastewater treatment that bioremediate water, fixing and restoring the water bodies’ state and quality. This low cost treatment has been included as a regular activity of the City ENRO to clean our water bodies and coastal waters.
During the mudball throwing, the City Officials were accompanied by Atty. Carlo B. Gomez, City Environment and Natural Resources Officer, Atty. Jerehmiah Asis of Puerto Princesa Water Reclamation and Learning Center (PPWRLC), Punong Barangay Gerry Abad and other officials, and local residents. Tree planting and mangrove planting followed.
Private sectors showed dynamism in its support to the city government to the project.
John Vincent Q. Gastanes, Chief Executive Officer of Project Zacchaeus Cooperative (PZC) Eco Kolek said that their group has been helping the city, through solid waste recovery activities and they partnered with the City Environment and Natural Resource Office (City ENRO) in their projects. Their group piloted Barangay Bancao-Bancao when they started in 2020, and this time, they are expanding to Barangay Sicsican and Sta. Monica.
Gastanes thanked the City ENRO and the entire City government of Puerto Princesa for helping their company, especially their informal waste pickers, who are now partnering with business establishments and households, to recover recyclable wastes. He said that their informal waste pickers they call “Eco Warriors” are trained in solid waste management and other training, and are now equipped with Driver’s License. He said that they intend to establish a learning hub for informal waste collectors in the city.
Jonathan Benitez of Palawan Artist Collective said that their group can help the project through art workshops and murals. He said that beautifying the walls will attract tourists and visitors.
“As part of the art community, we are glad to utilize our expertise to maximize its potential in helping the City Government in Save the Puerto Princesa Bay project,” Benitez said. “Art is a vital tool in shaping our identity. Ang sining ay effective siyang communication,” he further said.
Puerto Princesa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a group of local businessmen and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), a national government agency mandated to safeguard coastal areas, likewise expressed their support to the project.