25 June 2007

The furor on the Taal resort spa

THE DIFFERENCE between a local government strongly in favor of a project, compared to one that is not or at best indifferent, is illustrated by the ongoing furor on the proposed resort spa near the crater of Taal volcano in Batangas.

Activist farmers and fishermen are against it, joined by the outgoing governor and vice governor of Batangas province as well as the mayor of Tagaytay City.

“If Taal Volcano was (sic) under my administrative authority, I would have scrapped that project even during its initial phase,” Tagaytay City Mayor Abraham Tolentino was quoted as saying.

Only the municipal government of Talisay, which has jurisdiction over the volcano, is clearly in favor, with the mayor, Florencio Manimtim, entering into a memorandum of agreement with the Korean developer, Jung Ang Interventure Corporation.

That the community around the famous volcano only got to learn about the project last June 14, 2007 when the Environmental Clearance Certificate was issued on November 8, 2006, tells volumes about the secrecy attending the whole project.

The procedures for a securing an ECC in an environmentally critical area (which applies to Taal Lake) are found here, specifically on pages 21 to 23. It provides for a 120-working day processing period (roughly five to six months) starting when the submitted documents have been verified for completeness. This means the application for that Taal spa project was submitted to the DENR Regional Office sometime in June or July last year, or even earlier.

The procedures require at least two public consultations, one before the 120 days and the other during the review of the application. The most relevant questions are: Who attended these two public meetings? Did these really take place, or merely on paper?

Another set of relevant questions worth asking: Did the Sangguniang Bayan pass a legislative measure authorizing Mayor Manimtim to enter into a MOA with their Korean partners? If it did, were there public hearings conducted on the matter? Did those consultations really take place, or are they merely on paper?

Another aspect that should be looked at is the role of the preparers of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) report that is one of the "must" document requirements for an ECC. The procedures require an accountability statement from the consultant hired to conduct the study.

It will be very interesting to find out how the EIS was completed by these consultant-preparers -- a cottage industry spawned by our environmental regulations -- in complete secrecy. Maybe their consultations were held in Korea, and not in Batangas?

Photo by R. W. Decker of the University of Hawaii Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes
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9 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is just one of the mis-handling of this mayor of governing the "Town of Talisay" one of my friend told me that this mayor---Jojie Manimtim is a crooked and no business will be allowed to operate but you have to see the mayor first... so I hope that this investigation will not stop just to stop this Korean Company to operate but to dig deeper to the past,present and future actions of this mayor.

Anonymous said...

This gargantuan project can never be done by Filipinos. NEVER.

There are always restrictions and there are always countermeasures to restrictions. Money talks you all know that. We are a nation of thieves.

Earlier anonymous please tell us with first hand info not hearsay please.

This project might lay a golden egg in that sleepy boring town. Tapping the golfing and Englishing Koreans is just right on the current list. I said "might", for it might also start the DOOM of the UNCONTROLLED, UGLY, AND UNSIGHTLY fishing business in the area ; or the doom of the town itself.

Introducing a new theme has to expect furious resistance. I think Jesus was crucified by his own folks.

sorry for the anonymous signing, i forgot my username, just have to comment right now. Will claim this comment when I log on.

mapleleaves said...

I don't think the Talisay town mayor just entered into a contract with a Korean company who will put up the Taal resort spa. It should have passed the Sangguniang Bayan's approval otherwise the Mayor could be charge for graft. I have yet to see a newspaper report to that effect.

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

Anonymous 2: The process calls for consulting the locals (and that is not the mayor alone), and it appears from news reports they weren't.

When things are done in secrecy, you can be sure there is something fishy about it. Now even the DOT and other government agencies are distancing themselves from the project. No amount of rationalization can change the fact that shortcuts were made.

And I beg to disagree that we are a nation of thieves; maybe the ones whose pockets were lined (as you adverted to), but I don't think that includes the residents who will be affected by this project.

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

Mapleleaves: The ABS-CBNNEWS article I linked to had this paragraph:

"He said that upon inquiring at the office of Talisay Mayor Florencio Manimtim, it was learned that the project is covered by a memorandum of agreement between the local government and the Korean company. They were also surprised to discover that the volcano was titled to four families, namely, Laurel, Mayuga, Manigbas and De Jesus."

Entering into a MOA requires an SP authorization just the same.

Anonymous said...

The Sangguniang Bayan Members of Talisay are all cowards and idiots... and they don't know what they're doing... they sign papers or agreement even they don't know what's inside of it... actually with this kind of project they have to consult (public consultation) first the Talisay'ens for this because they're the one who will be affected by this project. I hope the whole SB Members and The mayor of this town go to Graft and Corruption investigation... especially the mayor, which he's knowned for..."magnanakaw."

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Anonymous said...

the mayor of talisay batangas is just looking of the money and he dont think about the cause of environment,he was born in that town and he must know all about the taal volcano is,he is one of most corruption mayors in the philippines.