[LAST UPDATE: July 25, 1:30pm]
It’s been a week since I left Manila to investigate on what’s happening at the turtle hatchery at Dahican Beach, Mati City.
The sea turtle hatchery will stay here as long as DENR-CENRO will not approve the foreshore lease agreement applied by the owner of the lot. I also learned that other land owners fronting the beach have already pending excess land titling applications and behind them are influential families.
The marine turtle hatchery is located about 5 meters away from the highest tide. According to the laws of easement, this area is government property and no one can apply ownership. So what the land surveyors did was wrong as they planted monuments “muhons” last June 12, 3 meters from the highest tide, even before their application of titling of this excess land is still on hold and not yet approved by the CENRO Mati City.
Upon further research, I learned that there is a Sangguniang Bayan Resolution last 2011 declaring Dahican (together with Bobon and Lawigan) an environmentally critical area (ECA) because of the presence of endangered sea turtles, dugongs, whalesharks and dolphins. It was presided by the former Vice Mayor and now newly-elected Mayor of Mati City, Hon. Carlo Rabat and was signed by the former Mayor herself Hon. Michelle Rabat. I just hope that they would uphold the resolution that they signed years ago. I think LGU should start making IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations) for the SB Resolution they made 2 years ago.
If that resolution is to be religiously followed then no one will be allowed to build resorts or a permanent structure at the beach because this is their territory. But looking at the speedy development this area is having, I doubt that the resort owners do think of these poor creatures of the sea. I also wonder is the Menzi Beach Park (LGU-managed) would continue their previous plan of providing a camp area for the Amihan Boys who are duly recognized by both Mati City LGU and DENR-PAWB as the caretakers of these endangered species. There’s a talk that this will be privatized soon.
There is also a pending paperwork making Dahican area a marine protected area but the some groups in the area are not cooperating. This is according to the talk I have with PENRO- Davao Oriental. As of July 23, I accompanied the concerned citizens in submitting the letter of request to the Bgry. Dahican office for speedy action on making Dahican Beach and Bay a Marine Protected Area (MPA). I even dream that they push this area to be included in Protected Landscape and Seascape Area.
Maybe in 3-5 years we would see a chain of resorts and hostels filling the 7km white sand beach. Some bars and restaurants by the beach would rule the night (like those in Boracay) and the pawikans for which this beach got its name would be gone. Come to think of it, do you really want another Boracay or Panglao? I hope it will not be turtles etal. versus beach party goers.
Did you know that Dahican got its name from the word “dahik” or “sumampa”/”magsaka” (crawl up/ go up) because lots of pawikans “dahik” to the shore long long time ago (personal accounts say 1970-1990s, it dwindled in the late 90s then turtles started coming back in 2004 when the Amihan Boys started to clean the shoreline). They even recorded a leatherback turtle weighing more than 300kgs (yes, as big as a carabao) during the late 1970’s laying eggs on this particular beach.
You can read my latest blog how important pawikans are in the ecosystem and of course in tourism (http://journeyingjames.com/2013/07/25-interesting-facts-about-pawikans/). You can also read how pawikans are inter-connected with dugongs and dolphins and the fish we eat.
I have yet to talk to the Mayor and City Councilors in this place but if they would ask me what to do, I like for them to preserve this beach as it is. Freeze any development being done along the beach and support the Amihan sa Dahican even more. Because when you support them it means saving the beach, the pawikans, dugongs, whalesharks and dolphins. What more, we make Mati City and Dahican Beach unique from all other tourism sites that prides themselves with state-of-the-art facilities or 5-star accommodations because we have what they don’t have- a pristine beach as it is, unadulterated and with teeming ecosystem.
I’m excited what DENR, CENRO and the LGU will do with all of these. But whatever they do, I would continue doing my share- picking up plastics on the shore and continually inform the public of the importance of the these marine creatures. I will even say that I will fight for it to my very last breath- #SaveDahicanBeach.
You can help the cause by sharing this blog to others with a hashtag- #SaveDahicanBeach. Thanks!
Mati City Resident
July 8, 2013
[LAST UPDATE: July 25, 1:30pm]