Boracay could vanish in 20 years if P2.5B Caticlan airport expansion pushes through –Mines and Geosciences Bureau

Citing possible environmental damage, various green groups urged leading presidentiable candidate Noynoy Aquino to review the Caticlan airport expansion in Aklan, reports Manila Bulletin.

The Caticlan International Airport Development Corporation (CIADC) plans to extend the runway by leveling the so-called "Caticlan hill" in order to turn the Caticlan airport into an international one.

Dr. Ric Javelosa of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau said the world-famous white beaches of Boracay and Caticlan would vanish within 20 years if the P2.5 billion airport rehabilitation pushes through.

Possible damage raised by environmentalists include the drying of the nearby Lupo-Lupo Lake, erosion, destruction of coral reefs and forests, and eventual flooding.

Alex Magno wrote in his Philippine Star column, "In a word, the hill provides the indispensable natural barrier that created the fragile microclimatic conditions that produced that majestic beach in the first place. Take out the hill and Boracay's beach will become a muddy stretch."

Citing the nearby Kalibo international airport, Magno added that raising the Caticlan airport to international status violates the international safety regulation that international airports must not be within a 25-mile radius from one another.

Aklan Gov. Carlito Marquez said the CIADC did not have proper consultation with the provincial officials, which is one of the three major components of the issued environment clearance certificates along with a multi-partite monitor team and social responsibilities with stakeholders.

The Caticlan airport rehabilitation, a project of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's administration, is expected to be operational by 2013.

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