BULAKAN, Bulacan — A 24.5-hectare mangrove area in the coastal villages of this town will be left undisturbed when the P700-billion international airport project starts construction, a private company said.

In a recent dialogue with residents, representatives of Philkairos Inc., an environmental consultant firm, said Bulakan Mangrove Ecopark would be protected from the 3-meter-thick backfilling activities in the land development project of Silvertides Holdings Corp.

Aerotropolis

Silvertides was contracted by the airport project proponent, San Miguel Corp., to acquire the fishponds from private owners to give way to the airport complex dubbed “Aerotropolis.”

Silvertides had acquired about 2,000 ha of idle fishponds in this town, residents and local officials said.

Philkairos was tasked by Silvertides with conducting an environmental impact assessment and study on the land development project of the fishponds.

Elisa Dimaliwat, Environmental Management Bureau chief for environmental monitoring and enforcement in Central Luzon, said they were reviewing the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) application of Silvertides.

Preserving ecopark

But Elizabeth Apresto, Bulacan provincial environment and natural resources officer, said they would not issue the ECC unless Silvertides included the preservation of the ecopark in its development plan.

Apresto said the ecopark, the largest mangrove site in Bulacan province, was jointly managed by officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and this town.

“Mangrove cutting is a criminal act. Under the law, all measures have to be adopted to protect mangrove sites,” said JR Romarate, Philkairos marine biologist.

Romarate assured residents that Silvertides would incorporate the mangrove area in the land development project design. “The mangrove site will retain its fresh water [despite the construction],” he said.

The ecopark covers 1,000 m of developed sites in the inner portion of the island sitios of Barangay Taliptip and Bambang in Bulakan.

The park, built in 2004, has a 600-m path walk and is a popular tourist destination in the province, said Eliseo dela Cruz, Bulacan provincial tourism officer. —Carmela Reyes-Estrope