By Ric Obedencio | 11:28 AM September 11, 2022
The provincial government of Bohol, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and local government units (LGUs) concerned have signified their desire to further protect and conserve the Danajon Double Barrier Reefs (DDBR), off the northern part of Bohol island.
The agencies concerned signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) last week during a short ceremony held at Provincial Planning and Development Office hall.
The move is an attempt to revive the provincial DDBR Management Council which have been in hiatus for few years since the signing of the same document in the inter-provincial level of management, known as CeLeBoSoLe sometime in 2013.
The MOA signing was driven by the fact that destructive fishing means, the marine productivity decline, habitat damage and weak law enforcement still prevail.
CeLeBoSoLe stands for Cebu, Leyte, Bohol and Southern Leyte. These provinces covered the area where the DDBR is situated, but apparently it is nearer in Bohol than in other province mentioned.
Like his father, the late Gov. Erico Aumentado, Gov. Aris Aumetnado expressed grave concern over the situation on the DDBR and this must be protected furthermore. He told the initial council meeting that he also wanted to reactivate the CeLeBoSoLe.
“This is an important aspect in the protection and conservation of our marine resources,” Aumentado said.
Aside from the governor, those who inked the MOA included DENR PENRO Ariel Rica representing regional director Paquito Melicor Jr., BFAR officer Candido Samijon represented regional Exec. Director, Dir. Allan L. Poquita, Tubigon Mayor William R. Jao, Inabanga Mayor Jono Jumamoy, Trinidad Mayor Atty. Roberto C. Cajes, Buenavista Mayor Atty. Dave Duallo Mayor, Clarin Mayor Eugeniano Ibarra, and Ubay Mayor Costan Reyes.
Congresswoman Vanessa Aumentado, wife of the governor, provincial board member Tita Baja, represented COngw. Alexie Tutor and Atty. Abel Damalerio who represented Cong. Edgar Chatto witnessed the MOA signing.
Those who were visibly absent are Bien-Unido Mayor Rene Borenaga, Talibon Mayor Janette Garcia, Gtafe Mayor Cary Canacho and Pres. Carlos P. Garcia Mayor Fernando Estavilla.
The agreement provides for the management council composition, its functions and duties, adjudication board, technical working group, secretariat, executive committee and functions of each body, including the tourism committee, created under it.
It also defines a more specific institutional arrangements and working protocols to guide the implementation of the activities under the Coastal and Marine Ecosysstem Management Program of the DENR.
“The parties adhere to the policy declared under Republic Act No. 8550, also known as the Philippine Fisheries Code 1998, as amended by R.A. No. 10654 to achieve food security as the overriding consideration in the utilization, management, development, conservation and protection of fishery resources in order to provide for the needs of the population, the MOA reads.
The formation of the management council was also prompted because of insufficient collaborative effort in governance framework that resulted to uncoordinated management of the reef, according to the MOA. This is considered by the council as the most significant problem.
The municipalities of Tubigon, Clarin, Inabanga, Buenavista, Getafe, Bien Unido, Trinidad, Ubay, Pres. Carlos P. Garcia and Talibon in Bohol; Lapulapu City and Cordova in Cebu; Matalom, Bato, Hilongos and Hindang in Leyte; and Maasin in Southern Leyte are expected to compose the inter-provincial management council or the CeLeBoSoLe.
It will recalled that the CeLeBoSoLe Growth Quadrangle Convention on Poverty, Population and Environment was held in Tagbilaran City. Then Governors Gwendolyn Garcia of Cebu, Carlos Jericho Petilla of Leyte, Erico Aumentado of Bohol and Damian Mercado of Southern Leyte signed a similar MOA, which formed the CeLeBoSoLe Council and Technical Working Group, which are inter-regional, multi-province, and multi-agency body.
“The MOA aims to address the issues and concerns affecting food security, poverty reduction over population, maintenance of the biodiversity at the Danajon Bank Barrier Reef, and the enforcement of fishery laws though a participatory convergence approach of the various stakeholders of said rare natural bounty.”
It will be recalled that then Congressman Erico Aumentado filed House Bill 5145 seeking to put the Danajon Double Barrier Reef (DDBR) a protected area under the category of a natural park.
It was not known if this was approved by congress, however.
Aumentado said that Danajon Bank as the only double barrier reef in the Philippines and one of the only six documented double barrier reefs in the world.
The former governor warned that unless the reef is protected the situation could further deteriorate “until this status became endangered by illegal fishing, poaching of corals, rapid population growth and other destructive activities in the area.”
“It is imperative that the DDBR be declared a protected area under the category of a natural park pursuant to Republic Act 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Area System (NIPAS) Act, to protect and preserve it, considering its enormous revenue generating potential for ecotourism and biodiversity of marine resources vital to the fishing industry and food security,” Aumentado said.
The proposed law would ban the following: (1) possession or use of blasting caps, explosives or cyanides within the DDBR or its buffer zone; (2) fishing, hunting, collecting, catching, capturing, wounding, killing, destroying, transporting or possessing and any disturbance of protected species of corals, plants and animals; (3) disposal or dumping of non-biodegradable, toxic, hazardous materials and other prohibited substances; (4) fishing using spear and submerged underwater breathing apparatus, trawling equipment or any other equipment prohibited by the Fisheries Code of 1998; and (5) alteration, removal, destruction of boundary marks or signs and coral reefs.
“It is a unique geological formation which has been carved for over 6,000 years of coral development, hence, it is a larger and better-defined structure than other known double barrier reefs in the world,” the former congressman said.
With a total shoreline of 691 kilometers, the DDBR consists of the Caubyan Outer Reef and the Calituban Inner Reef. Caubyan of Cebu spans towards Southern Leyte, while Calituban Reef of Bohol stretches up to Maasin City.
It is one of the only six in the world and the only documented in the country and in the SouthEast Asia with 272-km long, 699 kms of coastline and has 27,200 hectares.
DDBR represents over one percent of the total coral reef in the contry.
The Danajon is also known in some islands nearby as “Dawahon.” It was not known how the Danajon was derived.
The reef is the home of the third largest seaweed producing province in the country and the largest man-made mangrove plantation in Asia. (rvo)