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Davao City, Philippines

Gov’t, Aboitiz seal deal on marine conservation

January 11, 2019 - Friday 2:01 PM by Ayan Mellejor

GENTLY NOW. Crocy, a 15-year-old Hawksbill turtle, is gently lifted to be released back into the sea at the Cleanergy Park in Punta Dumalag on Thursday. DANIEL JOAQUIN

DAVAO CITY – The partnership of the city government, the Aboitiz Group, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) moved to another level as they sealed the deal for the conservation and protection of marine life.

The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed on Thursday by Mayor Sara Duterte, Davao light and Power Company (DLPC) president Jim Aboitiz, and DENR Regional Executive Director Ruth Tawantawan covers the establishment of the Pawikan Center, a rescue and hatchery facility at the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park in Punta Dumalag, Matina Aplaya.

Mayor Sara said the signing of the MOA is also a renewal of the city government’s commitment for the protection of the endangered species, particularly the Hawksbill turtle.

Initially, Sara offered the manpower counterpart for the establishment of the rescue center, which aims to identify, document, and address threats to marine turtles and their habitats, promote research, and serve as venue for monitoring and information exchange.

“Providing the manpower will be the contribution of the city government as a partner. Ang manpower ang immediate nga mahatag nato (The manpower requirement will be the immediate help we can give). So far we have no arrangement with money,” Sara said in an interview with reporters at the sidelines of the MOA signing at the Royal Mandaya Hotel.

The MOA is the second agreement between the city and DLPC after the first deal which was signed in 2000 expired in 2009.

“We are renewing with our commitment because daghan kinahanglan buhaton projects inside ( there are many things that need to be done inside) if you really want to be serious in protecting endangered marine species,” the mayor said.

Sara said the communities around Punta Dumalag also play a key role in protecting the site by keeping the area clean.

During her first term as mayor, Sara declared the shoreline extending 300 meters seaward in Punta Dumalag as a marine protected area.

The city government will also continue deploying its Bantay Dagat team for the city’s coastal clean-up for the management of the zero waste policy, noting that plastics like wrappers of instant noodles, shampoo, and water bottles end up in the sea.

Meanwhile, Aboitiz said the Aboitiz Group remains committed to building additional facilities inside the Cleanergy Park, which is their commitment to protecting the endangered Hawksbill turtle and preserving its habitat.

The Cleanergy Park was opened in 2015 and since then more than 13,000 mangrove seedlings have been planted and a number of pawikan hatchlings released.

“More than ever, we recognize their contribution to maintaining biodiversity in our ecosystem. As responsible stewards, we will do all that we can to make sure our pawikans, especially the critically endangered Hawksbill specie, are protected,” Aboitiz said.

According to Aboitiz, the Park has also served as a venue to inform and educate more visitors about the importance of safeguarding the pawikan and its natural habitat.

DENR, on the other hand, will provide technical assistance, facilitate information and education campaign on marine turtle conservation, and establish Punta Dumalag as critical habitat for marine turtles and other marine life.

Tawantawan said the partnership between the government and Aboitiz Group is a noble milestone in conserving and protecting pawikans and its habitat.

She said the possibility of extinction of pawikans is high.

Tawantawan said the rescue center and the marine turtle sanctuary is the only one in the region.

“Let this be one of your legacies,” Tawantawan said, addressing Sara and Aboitiz.

Tawantawan also called on the Dabawenyos to cooperate with the government in protecting the city’s environment.

Aside from conducting the MOA signing on Thursday, the Aboitiz Group also released back to the sea a 15-year old marine turtle named Crocy.

Crocy was rescued by residents of Barangay Sasa and turned over to the Cleanergy Park on December 6, 2017.

Cleanergy Park veterinarian Dr. Ken Lao said Crocy’s one-year stay to recuperate at the Cleanergy Park was enough for him to be released back to the sea.