MNWD, MNCCI slam mini-hydro project in Mt. Isarog
By Jason B. Neola NAGA CITY --- Expressing solidarity with concerned citizens and environmentalists, the management and members of the Board of Directors of the Metro Naga Water District in a position paper aired its strong opposition to the construction of Rangas River Mini Hydro Electric Dam due to its clear violations of the stipulated provisions of NIPAS Act of 1992 and its adverse effects to the Mt. Isarog Natural Park (MINP), a protected area. It also stressed that the hydro-electric project puts in jeopardy the on-going undertaking being facilitated by the MNWD, partner agencies, institutions and other major stakeholders to conserve and rehabilitate the MINP as primary watershed of Camarines Sur. “Corollary to this, we are respectfully appealing to the DENR Secretary Regina ‘Gina’ Pas Lao-Lopez to closely look into the matter by reassessing and re-evaluating the application for renewal of the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) of Clean N Green Solutions, Incorporated for the proposed Rangas River Mini Hydro Power Plant and to review the Site Development Plan, particularly the location of the related structures,” the position paper said. It also asked to disallow the cutting of trees and other destructive activities related to the project that will threaten the surrounding communities and indigenous/endemic species within the MINP. Mt. Isarog Natural Park, it pointed out is considered to be a key diversity area which serves as natural habitat for different kinds of indigenous/endemic flora and fauna which can only be found within its confines, making it a primary area for conservation and protection to ensure environmental integrity. At least 6 municipalities and Naga City, namely:, Pili, Ocampo, Tigaon, Goa, Calabanga, and Tinambac, all in the province of Camarines Sur are dependent on its natural resources which are essential for agricultural, industrial and socio-economic growth. Meanwhile, in its Board meeting last Feb. 16, the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry also expressed its opposition to the project. Chamber President Gilbert Albero said a Board Resolution will also be drafted for submission to DENR Secretary Lopez, furnished VP Leni Robredo the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry for appropriate action. As supplier of potable water in Naga and the adjacent towns, the MNWD said the paramount importance of MINP as a watershed area is that it ensures the sustainability and development of the water supply industry being a potent partner for economic growth not only for the present but future generations to come, is an accepted reality for all; The MNWD since 1993 has been continually undertaking rehabilitation, maintenance and protection of the 317 hectares Anayan-Rumangrap Watershed situated in Barangay Curry, Pili, Camarines Sur and the 356 hectares Kalinisan-Nabuntulan Watershed situated in Barangay Panicuason, Naga City. The MNWD in its effort to rehabilitate, maintain and protect MINP has come-up with a holistic approach and courses of action which involve its 6 neighboring municipalities, concerned agencies and other stakeholders to protect the MINP in order to ensure its integrity as the last frontier for bio-diversity conservation in the Province of Camarines Sur; It stated that alongside with the sustenance and protection MINP, economic growth can be achieved thru non-destructive utilization of natural resources and eco-tourism “Green Economy.” Republic Act (RA) No. 7586, otherwise known as the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992 and Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations that covers MINP as a protected area has provided certain prohibited acts within protected areas. These prohibited acts, among others, include: 1. Use of any motorized equipment without a permit from the management Board; 2. Damaging and leaving roads and trails in a damaged condition; 3. and constructing or maintaining any kind of structure, fence or enclosure, conducting any business enterprise without a permit. It also provides that exploration for utilization of energy resources shall not be allowed in Strict Nature Reserve and Natural Park categories. The same position paper by MNWD also pointed out that the project undertaking of Clean N Green Energy Solution Incorporated to construct a Mini Hydro Electric Dam at San Pedro, Goa, Camarines Sur clearly violated the provisions of R.A. No. 7586 or NIPAS Act of 1992 and Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations DAO 2008-26, to wit; 1. Operation with an expired Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) for the project that was issued on November 11, 2009, which incidentally expired last November 11, 2014; 2. Incursion of the project inside the protected area which involve road construction and cutting of more or less 73 trees which is strictly prohibited under NIPAS ACT; 3. Use of motorized equipment inside the protected area which needed appropriate permit from the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB); 4. Other related structures for the proposed Mini Hydro Power Plant presumed to be inside the Strict Protection Zone of MINP; and 5. Violation of Rule 16.1 & 16.4 of the NIPAS Act and Implementing Rules and Regulations.