Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez made an ocular inspection Wednesday at the proposed site of the state-of-the-art marine ranger station that will be built adjacent to the current station on the shallow part of the North Atoll of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP).
The plan to build a modern marine ranger station to replace the 16-year old current was conceived in 2013.
However, it remained a plan until today due to “falling short of the project’s budgetary requirements,” said Alvarez in a chance media interview.
In the past three years, the Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) has received more or less Php100-million from the public and private sectors.
Among major contributors were the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), according to TMO Manager Angelique Songco.
“The DENR provided the TMO with Php41 million for all construction materials, while TIEZA gave Php40 million for the construction of the new ranger station, however, it is still not enough since the overall project cost reaches more or less Php120 million,” Songco admitted.
Songco, who also serves as the Protected Area Superintendent (PASu), headed the recently concluded three-day familiarization tour organized for the members of the local media.
Now that all of the materials were already in place, Alvarez said the task of building the structure and providing technical and other support has since been assumed by the Provincial Government of Palawan (PGP).
Alvarez said it would be good if the TIEZA, an attached agency to the Department of Tourism (DOT) mandated to designate, regulate and supervise the country’s tourism enterprise zones, would shell out more millions of pesos to fill in the deficit in order to jumpstart the construction.
The said state-of-the-art structure includes a visitor center, a research building, and a helipad.
To prevent any damage to the centuries-old coral reef, the governor said the structure will be prefabricated in Puerto Princesa City the soonest possible time, except for the concrete pylons covered with high-density polyethylene (HPDE) which will be erected on the site.
He said it would be mounted on a barge off to TRNP, and would be assembled in a span of three months by summer next year when the sea is calm.
TRNP is a 97,030-hectare Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Palawan, the westernmost Philippine province. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located 150km southeast of Puerto Princesa City, at the heart of the Coral Triangle, the global center of marine biodiversity. (PNA)