Zamboanga Peninsula’s Department of Tourism (DOT 9) has finally answered the questions on who requested the tourism road leading to Dona Josefa Watershed and Protected Area in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay clarifying that it was funded by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
“Cong. Ann requested the project in 2014,” said Marilan Silorio, regional chief Tourism Operations Officer, in an interview, referring to Rep. Dulce Ann Hofer (2nd District, Zamboanga Sibugay).
The request came from Hofer and the provincial government had identified the area as a tourism site, she explained. Gov. Wilter Palma was already the governor of the province in 2014.
Silorio further clarified that the funding came from DPWH, which has the “money because our office (DOT) does not have the fund.” It was reported earlier that the funding of the project came from DOT.
The participation of the DOT 9, she said, was to ensure that the checklist for the project was met. Environmental protection was one of the requirements, she added.
The tourism road was under the Tourism Road Infrastructure Project (TRIP), a partnership of DPWH and DOT, to boost tourism in the country.
Silorio said the first and second phase of the Dona Josefa tourism road were implemented in 2015 and 2016.
The road construction was stopped in 2017 due to lack of funding, she said but was resumed later when funding was available in 2018. Nationwide, the DPWH had implemented a total of 1,688 kilometers of tourism roads across 16 regions amounting to P30.9 billion.
She admitted to came to know the reported destruction of the watershed when Nestor Carbonera, vice chair of the Regional Development Council (RDC 9) raised the issue during the recent meeting.
It was the joint inspection was conducted to validate the reported destruction of the watershed due to the tourism road.
“It is sad that the area was destroyed by the project,” she lamented.
“It is plain common sense,” she said when asked if the tourism road should have not encroached the watershed area saying, “the project should have end outside the watershed area.”
During the RDC meeting, it was learned from Silorio that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is set to file formal charges against concerned agencies and individuals who contributed to the destruction of the area. She did not name names, however.
“We will just face it when our office will be included in the complaint,” she said. (Mindanao Sun)