An environmental non-government organization (NGO), Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) proposed that the construction firm involved in the alleged illegally constructed road in Talaudyong, Barangay Bacungan, Puerto Princesa City shall undertake restoration and rehabilitation of the damaged forest and shoulder its cost and maintenance.
While the ELAC is known for its tough stance against violators and abuses in previous years involving other environmental issues in Palawan, some observers said that the environmental NGO has softened its stance this time.
The alleged illegally constructed road was funded by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which the City Government of Puerto Princesa questioned as the project proceeded without securing the necessary prerequisite documents, and no concurrence from the city government.
Atty. Grezilda Gerthie Mayo-Anda, executive director of ELAC, disclosed that DPWH and E.R. Lustre Jr. Construction are proposing the rehabilitation of the damaged forest be shouldered by the construction firm.
“Wala kayong SEP clearance, wala din kayong ECC at nagsalita na ang gobyerno that there’s no legal basis to allow the project. Meron po kaming proposed strategies at yun ang makatarungang proseso. Ayaw nating umabot doon sa husgado. Kung halimbawa mungkahi namin ay pag-usapan and in behalf of the civil society, para sa akin ay mas mapabilis sana. E-restore ninyo ang area, magtanim ng mga bagong puno,” she proposed to the construction firm.
This January 2020, ELAC in its social media post exposed an alleged illegally constructed road cutting through a core zone and natural forest of Talaudyong in Barangay Bacungan.
They also called the concerned government agencies both national and local, to initiate actions that will hold “environmental criminals” liable and government officials and personnel who allowed this to happen.
ELAC has slowed down during the technical conference also attended by DPWH and the E.R. Lustre Jr. Construction and opted to call for a dialogue with the construction firm so that the damaged areas will be restored and rehabilitated.
Atty. Anda further said that their organization will join in the effort of rehabilitating the forest. She also asked the DENR and the City ENRO to help formulate the rehabilitation plan, and if the construction firm will fail to undertake the restoration of the damaged area of the core zone/ forest, they will seek legal remedies and damages in court.
“Dito pa lang ay remedyohan na natin. Yung core zone ay e-rehabilitate at gumawa ng plan ng rehabilitation with the help of DENR and City ENRO. Kaya naman na ipanumbalik yan, tamnan. Wag na tayong aabot pa sa hukuman na pag-dedebatehan yun. Kaya ako practical yung recommendation ko. Planohin ang core zone para mapanumbalik ag buong area or else we will seek damages in court. Stop any activity and remove all the equipment,” she told representatives of E.R. Lustre Jr. Construction.