DENR breaks ground on Bangui dev’t projects

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recently broke ground on the first phase of its 100-hectare enterprise development project with auto giant Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. (MMPC) in the town of Bangui in Ilocos Norte province.

The first phase consists of a 30-hectare coffee and cacao plantation, and development of the historical Sentinella Hill into an eco-cultural tourist destination.

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the DENR-MMPC joint venture project seeks to rehabilitate 100 hectares of forestland through sustainable integrated area development (SIAD) approach, which harnesses a community’s natural wealth to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth within the local economy.

“In pursuit of sustainable and inclusive growth, our government under the administration of President Duterte necessarily employs a participatory approach,” Cimatu said during the recent groundbreaking ceremony.

Under the joint venture, MMPC would provide funds for SIAD projects to be identified by the DENR which, in turn, will provide the technical requirements in terms of manpower skills and government support.

Cimatu underscored the importance of DENR’s “convergence approach” with the private sector and the local government to achieve equitable growth that will “improve the ecological condition of the country as well as the socio-economic status of the community.”

“Bangui’s initiatives to sustain its local tourism industry hinges well on it people’s desire to harness and protect its ecological condition,” said Cimatu, who is a native of Bangui.

Meanwhile, MMPC President and CEO Mutsuhiro Oshikiri said that environmental advocacy forms the core of the company’s corporate social responsibility program with the assurance that “we, too, will be doing our part for the betterment of the environment.”

“I applaud DENR for their commitment in ensuring the sustenance of the habitats not only here in Ilocos Norte, but also in the different regions of the Philippines,” Oshikiri said.

MMPC will initially release some P2.6 million for the two undertakings with some P1.9 million going to the Sentinella Hill project.

The amount will cover the cost of improving its access trail and slope stabilization, establishment of a 2.2-hectare plantation site, a seedling nursery and construction of a look-out tower.

The Sentinella Hill, located in Barangay San Lorenzo, gives a commanding view of the entire 9-kilometer Bangui coastline that is famous for its windmill turbines, and panoramic view of the hills and coastline of neighboring towns of Burgos and Pagudpud.

It was fortified with artillery by Japanese forces during World War II to ward off approaching American vessels. During the Spanish colonial era, the hill served as an observation post to monitor incoming sea trade vessels and to warn Bangui residents of any attack from pirates.

For the 30-hectare coffee and cacao plantation, which will rise in Barangay Payac, MMPC will shell out some P700,000 to cover the production of some 15,000 quality cacao and coffee seedlings, construction of a seedling nursery, and maintenance and operation cost of the plantation for 2018.

Under the agreement, MMPC is given a chance to transform a total of 100 hectares of forestland into SIAD sites anywhere in the country within a span of four to five years.

Also present during the groundbreaking rites was Bangui Mayor Fidel Cimatu Jr. ###