Boracay groups protest Caticlan airport expansion plans involving levelling a hill

The Boracay Foundation Inc. (BFI) vowed to go against the Department of Transportation and Communications' (DOTC) proposed P2.5-billion Caticlan airport expansion when they start breaking ground this week, reports the Philippine Star.

The Manila Bulletin says the DOTC plans to level a hill beside the existing airport for the purpose of lengthening the runway to service bigger aircrafts. This project was said to be in line with one of President Arroyo's priority plans she discussed in her 2009 State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA).

The Bulletin reported that both the BFI and the Boracay Chamber of Commerce, backed by several environmentalists and local government officials, are opposed to the expansion, citing possible environmental problems and tourism issues.

"Leveling the hill to make way for the international airport would lead to ecological disaster," said BFI Chairman Henry Chusuey as quoted by the Star. Concerned environmentalists support his argument, enumerating a number of possible drastic changes the project can cause to Boracay's ecosystem. Some of these include the destruction of the nearby Lupo-Lupo lake, damage to the White Beach and coral reefs, and the eventual flooding of the said airport complex and nearby communities. Environmentalists also took note that any change in the topographic landscape of Caticlan could trigger high seismic activity in the area, reports the Manila Bulletin.

On top of these reasons, the BFI also told the Bulletin that the project is working without the proper environmental clearance certificates (ECC) and should be stopped immediately.

Aklan's Governor, Carlito Marquez, had also expressed his concern with the Bulletin when he said that the expanded airport will negatively affect Kalibo's tourism growth and could potentially result to "province-wide social, economic, and political chaos."

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Chusuey added that international airport should be located in Kalibo, not only for its strategic location to promote tourism in nearby areas, but also for environmental protection and the welfare of the Aklan Province.

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