Monday, June 8, 2015

Interaksyon article regarding Turtle Bay

By: Tricia Aquino, June 5, 2015 7:23 AM

This is a new article about this very same developer, building without an ECC permit in Boracay.

(My two cents is that these marine sanctuaries should remain just that. Diana)

The online news portal of TV5 
MANILA, Philippines -- A Puerto Princesa City native is protesting the construction of a resort at Turtle Bay, Palawan, saying the development would put wildlife at the marine sanctuary at risk.
Click photo to enlarge Turtle bay- palawan
Diana Limjoco, on her blog (, wrote Thursday last week that Seven Seas Properties Inc.’s proposed development would “totally mar and even destroy
the ecosystem in the bay.”
She described Turtle Bay as “a beautiful natural ocean park” with a mangrove nursery where fish and other sea creatures thrived, including “the already vulnerable” Asian small-clawed otter.

Beautiful Turtle bay- Across on the far side is where Seven seas will put the Ocean Park. Why would anyone want to see so many unnatural buildings when this bay is fine the way it is?
Photo by Puerto Princesa City

She added that because Turtle Bay is a small peninsula, “they will have to totally remove any natural vegetation to put in all those buildings.”
“Otters live along its mangrove habitat and frolic in the moonlight, chattering away. This bay is a natural gem, why put in a fake ocean park when the one there is fine the way it is?” she asked. “It will totally mar and even destroy the ecosystem in the bay.”

Asian small clawed otters were not considered in
any environmental study of Turtle and
Binunsalian Bays.
On her Facebook page, Limjoco cited a 1992 Sangguniang Panglungsod ordinance declaring Turtle Bay and Binunsalian Bay a marine sanctuary.
The ordinance defines “marine sanctuary” as “that portion of the municipal waters and its immediate marine environs where fish and other marine inhabitants are protected from any maritime activity, including, but not limited to exploitation and/or utilization, except by sustenance/marginal fishermen.”
In a phone interview with, Seven Seas vice president for sales and marketing Armi Cortes told that the property will be built in an isolated location of Kamia Bay, which is part of the larger Turtle Bay.
Commenting on reservations about the development, she said: “I think a lot of people think we are building on the seabed. We are not disturbing the seabed. We are building on land.” (Why is it on their website? Isn't this misleading the public? Also there is NO isolated portion..this peninsula is steep and narrow.)

As in Manila Ocean Park’s adjacent Hotel H2O, both of which are Seven Seas affiliates, the proposed Kamia Bay property would not be underwater. Rather, aquariums would be built, and rooms constructed around them.
Cortes added that the offerings on their website are just “general concepts.”
“Of course, the general concepts can still change depending on government approval. If some of the plans are, for instance, not amenable to government, then we will have to change it so that we are compliant,” she said.
Tranquil and important, is Turtle bay. Home to
many species of marine life, plants, birds, 108 kinds of
molluscs,  And a population of Asian small clawed otters.

She added Manila Ocean Park actually uses water from the Manila Bay and filters it so that it returns to its natural, pure state. “We actually never pollute waters. We clean the waters that we manage around that.” She also touted its breeding programs, which allowed Manila Ocean Park to hatch two penguins. “This is only possible if your animal safety standards are international. If in the first place we do not take good care of them (the animals), they will not breed. The breeding is only possible when the conditions are almost similar to what it is in nature,” Cortes said. (Bulldozing any part of the very narrow area of Kamia bay resort will allow mud to flow into the bays. The mouth of the bays is very narrow. Many species may be affected by the excess mud and particulates)

The multi-sectoral and inter-disciplinary body Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, which is under the administration of the  Department of Environment and Natural Resources, already issued Seven Seas a SEP clearance in October last year. This clearance is a requirement before the DENR can grant an Environmental Clearance Certificate so construction can begin.
A copy furnished by PCSD to showed that the SEP clearance was issued based on terms and conditions such as: “No introduction of exotic species,” and “Should the implementation of the project cause adverse environmental impact and pose nuisance to public health and safety determined by the PCSDS (Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff),
At the mouth of Turtle and Binunsalian bays.
It is already a rare and beautiful marine park.
these factors shall be sufficient ground for cancellation or suspension of the clearance.” (Does that mean that native whale sharks, dolphins and dugongs are ok to capture for their exhibits? Scroll down to see an incomplete copy of the SEP permit which was not even signed properly)

The SEP clearance was approved by Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez, who chairs the PCSD.  PCSD executive director Nelson Devanadera, in a phone interview with, said the terms and conditions of the clearance are “consistent with the national policy of government and the Biodiversity Management Bureau” regarding the introduction of exotic species, as well as the “promotion of nature and wilderness pertaining to tourism industry” and the “promotion of indigenous species of Palawan.” (By the time Seven Seas is done with this property there will no longer be any wilderness...get real. See photo below of their idea of nature and wilderness..they have totally removed some of the last timberland in Boracay WITHOUT AN ECC PERMIT)

This is what Seven Seas has done to Puka Beach, Boracay without an ECC permit. I am told they continue to build and they just keep paying the fines.This was the last pristine beach there.

Devanadera said that Seven Seas could opt to showcase the indigenous species of Palawan, instead. If it would introduce foreign species, he said, “It could be under scrutiny by the Biodiversity Bureau, under scrutiny by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development.”

This is Turtle bay. The opposite shore is where
Seven Seas Properties plans to build their man
made ocean park. Isn't it beautiful the way it it?
The project should also have an education component, and Devanadera said that he was going to write a letter to Seven Seas management saying PCSD could be a partner in this regard. Asked if the project was a legal one given that Turtle Bay was a marine sanctuary, Devanadera said that it is the Sangguniang Panglungsod that has jurisdiction over the matter.

To allay apprehensions and possible rejections from the community, Devanadera said, “What I can tell them is that consistent also with the national policies of government are the policies of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development.”  Should Seven Seas violate the terms and conditions of its SEP clearance, Devanadera said that they would have to face financial and/or other forms of penalties. It could also be a reason for their suspension.
Seven Seas properties misleading artist renderings
of guest rooms for their ocean park.
The community could benefit from the project in terms of jobs and revenues for the local government. With tourists, they would also be educated about nature, he said.

“Our concept really is eco-tourism, so we plan to respect the environment and rules and regulations of the Palawan Council,” (This is the council that gave permits for a COAL FIRED PLANT) Cortes said. “And of course by helping Palawan in eco-tourism we also create jobs and promote the area as well. We do understand that in doing eco-tourism we also have to respect of course, the need for environmental preservation. We’ve always done that. We’ve shown over the last few years what we have done in Manila Ocean Park.”
(This is in partnership with Hotel Centro. When they ran Kamia Bay resort they brought in immigrant employees from Puerto Princesa City, the only local jobs they gave were clean up jobs!)

Kamia bay resort in Turtle bay at sunset.
But Palawan-based environmental lawyer Gerthie Mayo Anda has another take on the issue. “It’s not just simply tourism. There are always consequences for any type of developmental activity. Eco-tourism theoretically is good, but then, how you implement it is another challenge,” she told in a phone interview.
It is vital for locals to be consulted and informed about the project’s impacts, both positive and negative.

“The law talks about informed participation,” she said, citing Presidential Decree 1586 on the Philippine Environmental Statement System. “For development plans, it’s important that the people in Puerto Princesa and Palawan should already start identifying the appropriate development projects in their area. Because what happens is that we are reactive, rather than being proactive and saying, ‘I think in this area this will be more ecologically suitable.’”
This is lacking in the Philippines as a whole, she noted.

For example, Filipinos are now preparing for a big earthquake. In the same way, they should be proactive in deciding the various uses of land.

Asian small clawed otters of Turtle and Binunsalian bays.
“I hope people will understand what the use of a particular area is, and what its value to them is. I think the scientific data in the researches there need to be disseminated. Otherwise the people will not find value on what they’re losing,” Anda added.

Biodiversity and the wildlife specialists should also be consulted so that the community will be even more enlightened about the project’s consequences.“Ganyan lagi ang problema natin sa Pilipinas eh. Dahil pagkakaperahan, okay na tayo (That is always our problem here in the Philippines. Just because we will earn from it, we’re okay with It),” she said.

Turtle bay is a fish nursery as well.
Leave it as such. 
She also noted that the ordinance which supposedly created the marine sanctuary should be examined. If Turtle Bay was indeed a marine sanctuary, it should be a “no-go zone.” The wildlife should be left alone. Should activity be allowed there, the law needs to be amended, Anda said.

Meanwhile, Cortes could not yet say when construction could begin as they were still processing their permits.

A  large blue jelly fish at the mouth of a river flowing into Turtle bay.
Ruffous backed kingfisher of Turtle bay.

Only a Few of the 108 varieties of bivalves and gastropods. In plain English, those are clams and shells.)

Clams and shells of Turtle and Binunsalian bays- Palawan
To download the full report click this link.

HERE is a copy of the SEP PERMIT by PCSD. Notice on the signature page, which is notarized, the name is missing, as well as name above signature and date. Yet is was duly notarized.

I suggest we boycott Hotel Centro and email them to back out of their partnership with Seven Seas and retain the old Kamia Bay resort, which is already built, and put in better management policies....who closes a resort at 4PM?

This is the reply of Mr. Art Ventura, former Executive Director of PCSD when he was invited by one of the staff as their "former boss" to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of R.A. 7611 known as the "SEP Law", a unique law that was created supposedly for the protection of Palawan.

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