Aboitiz Group joins Sara, DENR in saving hawksbill turtles

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DAVAO CITY – The city government, the Aboitiz Group and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have further strengthened their partnership for the protection and conservation of marine life, particularly the endangered hawksbill turtles.

Mayor Sara Duterte, Jim Aboitiz, the president of Davao light and Power Company (DLPC) and DENR Regional Executive Director Ruth Tawantawan signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the establishment of the Pawikan Center, a rescue and hatchery facility at the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park in Punta Dumalag, Matina Aplaya.

Mayor Sara said the MOA signing was a renewal of the city government’s commitment for the protection of the hawksbill turtle.

Initially, the mayor has offered the manpower counterpart for the establishment of the rescue center that aims to identify, document, and address threats to the endangered turtles and their habitats, promote research, venue for monitoring and information exchange.

“Providing the manpower will be the contribution of the city government as a partner. Ang manpower ang immediate nga mahatag nato(The manpower requirement will be our immediate help that we can give). So far, we have no arrangement with money,” the local chief executive said in an interview with reporters at the sidelines of MOA signing at the Royal Mandaya Hotel.

The MOA is a second agreement with DLPC after the first deal signed in 2000 expired in 2009.

“We are renewing with our commitment because daghan kinahanglan buhaton projects inside (because there are many things that will be done inside) if you really want to be serious in protecting endangered marine species,” she said.

She said the communities around the Punta Dumalag also play a key role in protecting the site by keeping the area clean. During her first term as mayor, Mayor Duterte declared the shoreline extending 300 meters seaward in Punta Dumalag as marine protected area.

The city government will also continue deploying its Bantay Dagat team for the city’s coastal clean-up for the management of the zero-waste policy, noting that plastics, like wrappers of instant noodles, shampoo, plastic water bottles among others, ended up in the sea.

Meanwhile, Aboitiz said the Aboitiz Group remains committed to building additional facilities inside the Cleanergy Park, which is their commitment to protecting an endangered hawksbill turtle and preserving its habitat.

The Cleanergy Park was opened in 2015 and since then released more than 13,000 mangrove seedlings planted and pawikan hatchlings released.

“More than ever, we recognize their contribution to maintaining biodiversity in our ecosystem. As responsible stewards, we will do all that we can to make sure our pawikans, especially the critically endangered hawksbill specie, are protected,” Aboitiz said.

Aboitiz said the park has also served as a venue to inform and educate more visitors about the importance of safeguarding the pawikan and its natural habitat.

DENR, on the other hand, will provide technical assistance, facilitate information and education campaign on marine turtle conservation, and establish Punta Dumalag as critical habitat for marine turtles and other marine life.

Tawantawan said the partnership between the government and Aboitiz Group is a noble milestone in conserving and protecting pawikans and its habitat.

She said the possibility of the extinction of pawikans is high, adding that the rescue center and the marine turtle sanctuary is only one in the region.

“Let this be one of your legacies,” Tawantawan said addressing the Davao mayor and Aboitiz’s initiatives.

Tawantawan also called on the Dabawenyos to cooperate with the government in protecting the city’s environment.

Aside from the MOA signing, Aboitiz Group also released back into the sea 15-year-old marine turtle named Crocy, which was rescued by residents of Barangay Sasa and turned over to the Cleanergy Park on Dec. 6, 2017.

Cleanergy Park veterinarian, Dr. Ken Lao, said Crocy’s one-year stay to recuperate at the facility was enough for him to be released back into the sea. (PNA)