Skip to main content

To: President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Public Work and Highways, Mt. Guiting-guiting Natural Park Protected Area Management Board, LGUs of Sibuyan Island

STOP NATIONAL ROAD CONSTRUCTION AT MT. GUITING-GUITING NATURAL PARK (SIBUYAN ISLAND, ROMBLON)

We won. The Department of Public Works and Highways canceled the project.

STOP NATIONAL ROAD CONSTRUCTION AT MT. GUITING-GUITING NATURAL PARK (SIBUYAN ISLAND, ROMBLON)

We, Bayay Sibuyanon Inc., The Climate Reality Project Philippines and concerned citizens of Sibuyan Island, Romblon, together with all other concerned, in behalf of Sibuyan Island's flora and fauna and the generations to come, express grave environmental concerns on the 2018 General Appropriations Act (GAA) inclusion of the construction of Magdiwang-San Fernando National Road, Cross Country Road leading to Magdiwang Port in the amount of Php 95,071,799.50.

The implementation of this project will be in contrary to the General Provisions of the 2018 GAA, specifically Section 26 (c) which says: “The planning and construction of all infrastructure projects to be implemented within the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) are done in a way that eliminates and minimizes the risk of biodiversity loss while the specifications thereon are in accordance with those determined by DPWH, in coordination with DENR. Major infrastructure projects may only be taken in said areas if intended to enhance biodiversity.”

Proponents of this project may argue on the trade and economic benefits of the Cross Country Road; however, it must be considered seriously that it will traverse Mt. Guiting-guiting Natural Park which is a protected area by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 746 signed by former President Fidel V. Ramos in 1996, pursuant to Repubic Act 7586 (NIPAS Act).

Mt. Guiting-guiting Natural Park has thick forests which serve as carbon sink and protection against landslides and floods. Its watersheds provide flowing waters which is the source of their people's renewable energy through a mini-hydro power plant. With this, the small island of Sibuyan has been contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

Hence, we demand the following:

1. Stop the construction of the PHP 95-million Cross Country National Road Project across Mt. Guiting-guiting Natural Park (from Barangay Jao-asan, Magdiwang, to Barangay España, San Fernando, Romblon).
2. Investigate the process how the project was included in the 2018 General Appropriations Act without any feasibility study or any kind of consultation with proper agencies.
3. Investigate and make accountable those who are concerned at the Department of Public Works and Highways and its Bids and Awards Committee for opening the project for bidding without any detailed engineering, feasibility study and preliminary engineering study, thus establishing the technical viability following land use and zoning guidelines under existing laws.
4. Investigate and make accountable a contractor or company for conducting clearing activities without any permission or authority from concerned government agencies before the bidding process period.
5. Conduct thorough environmental impact assessment and cost benefit analysis if indeed the aims include sustainable eco-tourism, trade and economic upliftment of the island while conserving and protecting biodiversity.
6. Prioritize and fund the unfinished infrastructure projects such as the circumferential and farm to market roads, bridges, ports and airport.
7. Facilitate more direct sea transportation accessibility routes for eco-tourism and sustainable economic upliftment of the island: ships/ferry from Roxas City or Caticlan, among others.

Why is this important?

Remember that Mt. Guiting-guiting is Sibuyanon’s remaining terrestrial life-support system. If we attempt to destruct its ecological balance without proper scientific and sociological bases under the principles of sustainable development, we will all suffer the consequences.

At the heart of Sibuyan Island is the Mt Guiting-Guiting Natural Park (MGGNP). It is the only remaining mountain in the Philippines with relatively intact habitats along its entire elevational gradient. Mt. Guiting-Guiting’s plant and mammal biodiversity is amongst the richest in the world (Heaney and Regalado 1998, Goodman and Ingle 1997, DENR 1997)

Be it known that Bayay Sibuyanon and those who seek the stoppage and investigation of this project are not against development but shall continue to promote and adhere to the targets and indicators of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Sustainable development and precautionary principles must always be considered in implementing projects in ecologically sensitive and disaster prone areas.

The ‘Priority Sites for Conservation in the Philippines: Key Biodiversity Areas’ document by the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB), now BMB, of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) exposes that there are one critically endangered, four endangered, and eight vulnerable species of biodiversity in Mt. Guiting-guiting Natural Park, which includes the endangered Philippine tube-nosed fruit bat, Nyctimene rabori, and a vulnerable Sibuyan pitcher plant, Nepenthes sibuyanensis.

The project is not included in the Mt. Guiting-guiting Natural Park Management Plan.

Almost every year, new biological species are being discovered. In 2008, a new species of stick insect has been discovered, the Pharnacia magdiwang. In 2010, a new species of shrew has been documented, Crocidura ninoyi. Gekko coi or Leonard’s Forest Gecko, named after famous taxonomist Leonardo Co, was known in 2011. And in 2012, a new owl species has been found, Ninox hilippensis spilonota; in 2014 a pitcher plant named after a Sibuyanon slain environmentalist Armin Marin, Nepenthes armin. In the same year, a rare endemic species of a tree skink Lipinia vulcania was recorded and a new species of lizard called Pseudogekko isapa sp.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources describes Sibuyan Island having "relatively rich biodiversity":

"There are approximately 700 vascular plant species, including 54 species that are endemic to the island.  These include Nepenthes sibuyanensis J Nerz (Sibuyan Pitcher Plant); Heterospathe sibuyanensis Becc. (Bil-is), Pinanga sibuyanensis Becc. (Tibañgan), and Orania palindan var. sibuyanensis, a wild palm; Alpinia sibuyanensis, Phyllanthus sibuyanensis, Cyathea sibuyanensis Copel. (Tree Fern); Agamyla sibuyanensis Hilliard & BL Burtt (Sibuyan lipstick plant); Myrmephytum beccarii Elmer (Sibuyan ant plant); Begonia gitingensis Elmer (Guiting-guiting begonia).  Of the 700 plant species in the Island, 180 species can only be found in the Philippine archipelago.
 
There are numerous endemic species in Mt. Guiting-Guiting that occupy specific habitats.  These are found mostly in primary forest with elevation of 100 meters or higher (Madulid, Domingo, 1997).  The endemic species found in the protected area are as follows:
• Sararanga philippinensis grows gregariously and form distinct clumps in Peat swamp forest along riverine/riparian forest at low altitudes.
• Heterospathe sibuyanensis and Ardisia sibuyanensis located in primary forest at medium altitudes; and
• Nepenthes merrillii and Alpinia sibuyanensis most of these are found in primary forest between 100 and higher elevations.
  
A total of 130 species of birds have been recorded in Sibuyan, of which 102 are either known or presumed to be breeding residents.  These are: Cinnamon Bittern-Lapay (Ixobrychus cinnamomeus), Celestial Monarch (Hyphothymis coelestis), Striated Grassbird (Megalurus palustris forbesi), Rufous –lored Kingfisher (Halcyon winchelli nesydrionetes), Pygmy Swiftlet (Collocalia troglodytes), and Philippine Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus philippensis).

Sibuyan is also home to nine (9) native non-flying terrestrial mammal species,  four (4) of which are endemic rodents (Goodman and Ingle, 1993).  This are: Greater Sibuyan forest mouse (Apomys sp. B), Lesser Sibuyan forest mouse (Apomys sp. C), Sibuyan striped shrew-rat (Chrotomys sp. A), and Sibuyan giant moss mouse (Tarsomys sp. A) .  Out of nine fruit bat species found in the island, only one (1) species, Sibuyan Pygmy fruit bat (Haplonycteris sp. A) is endemic (Goodman & Ingle, 1993).   Dugongs (Dugong dugong) have also been sighted within the municipal waters and dolphins and whales are also expected to be visiting the area.
 
There are nine (9) recorded species of lizards and geckoes two (2) which are classified as endemic and rare. Gekko romblon, the Romblon narrow-disked Gecko, appears to be limited to Tablas and Sibuyan Island."

How it will be delivered

We will e-mail the signatures and deliver them in person.

Sibuyan Island, Philippines

Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL


Reasons for signing

  • It is very important to preserve and protect Mt. Guiting-Guiting. This mountain is the force that protect the island from flooding and other calamities. Please, let us unite to stop this unlawful construction. Think about the next generations to come so they can enjoy the beauty of the mountain. We love Mt. Guiting-Guiting and it need to stay there intact with its beauty and proctection. We should do the best we can to stop this very unlawful and harmful project.
  • To Preserved and Protect Nature to maintain our symbiotic ralationships with other species
  • It's a no-brainer to want to preserve nature. I hope these people in power get some brains, too.

Updates

2019-01-23 19:23:55 +0800

Late Update:
(May 1, 2018)

Yes! Nature won! The road project traversing Mt. Guiting-guiting has been cancelled. We laud Engr. Napoleon S. Famadico and his DPWH team for the honest response and decision. These are the truths behind the Cross Country Road Project according to DPWH:

1. They "find it difficult to secure and prepare the documents due to time constraint", these are the "requirements for the ECC and feasibility study to justify the necessity of implementing the project".
2. The project is "not included in the list projects proposed by... the District Office for funding in the National Expenditure Program (NEP) but were only included in the final list of projects funded in the Approved 2018 GAA".

DPWH "decided not to implement anymore" the project and has "already cancelled the bidding and has requested to realign the projects or revert the funds allocated".

Thanks everyone!

2019-01-23 19:16:14 +0800

Petition is successful with 522 signatures

2018-04-22 07:21:41 +0800

500 signatures reached

2018-04-09 00:22:31 +0800

100 signatures reached

2018-04-08 19:23:00 +0800

50 signatures reached

2018-04-08 17:07:51 +0800

25 signatures reached

2018-04-08 15:02:23 +0800

10 signatures reached