Letter to Cong. Calizo

Pagtatap Foundation, Inc.
c/o Dr. Robert Peter Alojipan
OPD, Makati Medical Center
Makati, Metro Manila

November 19, 2002

The Honorable Gabrielle V. Calizo
Region VI, Aklan


On April 25, 2002, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Proclamation No.186 declaring the Northwest Panay Peninsula as a Natural Park, pursuant to Republic Act No. 7586, otherwise known as the National Integrated and Protected Area System (NIPAS) Act of 1992. The area is situated in the municipalities of Pandan and Libertad in Antique, and the municipalities of Malay, Nabas, and Buruanga in Aklan.

The site is identified as a “Protected Area” due to its importance as the only source of potable water supply for three municipalities, has the last significant tracts of lowland rainforest within the West Visayas Biogeographic Region, its forests harbor diverse species of flora and fauna that include critically endangered birds and mammals unique to Panay, and the Malumpati and Kenyang falls serve as ideal recreational sites with six major caves within the area. Environment Secretary Heherson T. Alvarez also identified the area as an Extremely High-Urgent site for conservation of the country’s biological diversity.

The coverage of the President’s proclamation is limited only to the rainforest. The boundary of the Natural Park does not include the seashores and the coastal areas of the five municipalities. Because of this, NAPOCOR (National Power Corporation) has already targeted the coastal area of Patria, Pandan, Antique as the new location for its diesel power plant. The people in Pangasinan had rejected NAPOCOR’s ten-year-old generator due to the irreversible destruction it inflicted on their fishponds. We don’t want the power plant either. We refuse to be NAPOCOR’s next victims. In addition, the site that NAPOCOR picked in Patria is too close to the “protected area,” undoubtedly endangering our Natural Park and putting it at great risk.

We are very grateful for the President’s proclamation, but we foresee that companies in the likes of NAPOCOR will find ways to circumvent it and infiltrate our ecosystem, thereby defeating the purpose of the President’s mandate. Anything worth doing is worth doing well. We are therefore asking for your intervention to give the proclamation its needed leverage and impact. We believe that it will become resolute and impenetrable if the original boundaries of the Protected Natural Park be modified and extended to include:
a) all the seashores and coastal areas of the whole Northwest Panay Peninsula;
b) the beaches and corals of the five municipalities; and
c) from the shores, five (5) kilometers of the coastal seas for buffer zones.

Aside from ecological reasons, extending the boundaries as proposed will thwart unscrupulous businessmen, government agencies, and predators from evading the law by hiding behind technicalities like boundaries and available “unprotected” land. Only then can we ensure that the proclamation will serve its purpose to the fullest extent and thrive on its merits.

I represent the Pandananons and the native Pandananons all over the world. However, our request is not only for the best interests of Pandan and Libertad, but also of Nabas, Malay, and Buruanga. We consider it a blessing and a Divine intervention that you are Aklan’s Representative who also holds an influential position in Congress. Because we share common interests, concerns, and responsibilities towards our townspeople, our environment, and our heritage, you can identify with us and relate to our plight. We know that you have the means and resources at your disposal to set things straight, allay our fears, and affirm our faith in our democracy.

I will be happy to have an audience with you for further discussion and information. I will make myself available any time at your convenience.

Very truly yours,

Robert Peter Alojipan, M.D.
President, Pagtatap Foundation, Inc.