BK Eco Academy in Brooke's Point Palawan - FYI

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There has been a slew of negative publicity which is totally untrue.  Because the  project stands to benefit many it is vital that the truth be known. 

BACKGROUND: 

Mt. Matalingahan Protected Landscape was established as a protected area in 2009. Consisting of some 120,000 hectares, this protected mountain range has more than 30 watershed areas and has spectacular biodiversity. Unfortunately, there have been several mining applications in the area.

In 2009, the former sanggunian bayan of Brooke’s Point amended its ECAN (environmentally critical areas network) zones to substantially reduce the core zones and allow mining in natural forests.  In one proposed mining area, the core zone of some 2,411 hectares was reduced to 287 hectares.  Yet, in a study by Conservation International and other government agencies, maintaining the biodiversity, agricultural and non-timber forest livelihood of the indigenous peoples in Brooke’s Point stands much more to gain if the mountain is left alone.

The municipality of Brooke’s Point is one of the five municipalities which forms part of the Mt. Mantalingahan protected area. Brooke’s Point has some 17 watersheds. Brookes Point is an agricultural community: having rivers,
streams and rice fields. Farming Is the main livelihood of the people.

Although two large scale mining permits were issued by the government, the activities were limited to exploration.  The development and utilization activities were stalled when one mining company failed to get the approval of the NCIP (National Commission for Indigenous People). The majority of Brooke’s Point residents do not want mining in their area.

From the onset it has been clear that it is not enough to say No to Mining. A viable alternative to get the people out of poverty is necessary. This was where the ABS CBN Foundation came in.


THE FACTS:

1. Bantay Kalikasan Eco Academy is a joint venture between the municipality of Brooke's Point and the ABS-CBN Foundation intended to benefit the entire community. 

2. To date, Bantay Kalikasan has invested Php2.5 Million in Brooke’s Point with the pure intention of uplifting the lives of the people through the care of the environment. The municipality has provided electricity, water and other logistical support.

3. It is not a business. All the profits revert to the community. The intention is to send a strong message that taking care of the environment can uplift the lives of people and the communities. The goal is to provide  an alternative livelihood for communities which can ensure the preservation of the biodiversity in their area. 

In Puerto Princesa ecotourism projects,  with minimal investments (Php2.2 Million for five projects)  on the second year, the people are able to send their kids to college, put food on the table, maintain peace and harmony by taking care of the beauty that abounds.

4. In Brooke’s Point because of the biodiversity - the thrust is Eco-educational tourism. This already has the endorsement of CHED (Commission on Higher Education), which means the area is being used as a site where people can learn indigenous culture, cuisine - and biodiversity.

5. ABS-CBN Foundation did not cut any trees.The dead and dying trees, deemed hazardous were identified by DENR and were cut by the LGU along with Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) and DENR representatives in the interest of the community.

6. This area has been managed by the LGUs for decades, promoting it as a tourist destination. The district is under the supervision of the Mayor and the Sangguniang Bayan. 

Note:  This indigenous group is the same group that opposed the establishment of Mt. Mantalingahan as a protected area a few years ago.  They are the same group who endorsed mining inside Mt. Mantalingahan.


QUESTIONS: 

1. What are the motives  of this "indigenous group" that wants to stop a project that is right now benefitting 100 families?

2. What are the motives of this group - that did not do anything when there was garbage, broken bottles, and drinking in the area?  Now that the place is clean and indigenous culture is being explained to all –this “indigenous group” is declaring we are violating the "sacredness" of the place?? How about the “sacredness” that will be violated when enormous holes are dug - endangering the rivers and agricultural lands nearby.

3. Why didn't this group complain when thousands of LIVING trees covering a whole mountain were in danger of being cut due to mining? Why didnt this group complain when hundreds of trees were cut due to exploration?

4. What is the agenda of a group that is hell bent on putting obstructions to an effort that only wants to help the community?

5. Whose interests are the ABS-CBN Foundation stepping on by trying to help the community?


THE CHALLENGE: As long as greed and selfishness rule the land, we can have no future. Our country will only see the light of day when Truth and the Common Good prevail.

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