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The Franciscan Youths (YOUFRA) of Enrique Villanueva, Siquijor: Feeling triumphant after giving their share to the community. Tree planting and clean up activities are one of the regular activities of these youth to help mitigate the adverse effects of climate change following their weekly formation at the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Enrique Villanueva, Siquijor. (pia-siquijor/Rizalie Anding Calibo)
Central Visayas Region

PIA Press Release
Sunday, January 08, 2012

Businessman explains MOA on investment project

by Rey Anthony Chiu

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol Jan 8 (PIA) -- A businessman said that rescinding a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the provincial government and a development company here would hinder investment prospects in Bohol.

The Bohol Sangguniang Panlalawigan recommended for Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto to rescind the MOA for leisure island development offshore Panglao.

“This means suspending golden development opportunities for the province,” said Bohol businessman and one of Oasis Leisure Islands Development Inc. (OLIDI) proponents, Norris Oculam.

Oculam added the joint-venture MOA signed by then Governor Erico Aumentado and OLIDI are still in effect until the governor acts on the SP recommendation.

The MOA in question allows Bohol and OLIDI to conduct scientific studies in relation to the proposed prime properties through offshore islands development over the otherwise less productive tide-flats of Doljo and Danao in Panglao, this is learned.

“We have brought our team of people to assess the area and came up with the proposal,” Oculam said.

The proposal, Oculam explained is to create extra prime real estate areas where huge local and international investors intending to build in Panglao can have and be spared from the hassles of consolidating declared small properties in mainland Panglao.

Oculam, who was also the past president of the Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry shared that not a few prospective investors intending to put up properties in Pangalo have returned empty handed.

“A huge investor in Panglao needs at least some 200 meters of beachfront and some five hectares of lots for his facilities, one which is nearly impossible to get now,” Oculam noted.

Oculam who is also an economist, commented that in the absence of such a consolidated piece of property, “we looked at creating artificial offshore properties, one with the least impact to the environment.”

He said OLIDI has initially sought the help of a team of technical people who surveyed possible areas and found the shallow tide-flats as potential for less impact to the otherwise productive and largely bio-diverse seas off Panglao.

“These tide-flats are so shallow water temperature is high; fish do not spawn here,” he said.

Oculam added that, "The experts see occasional sea grasses that support marine life and so we skirt away from them, planning for a series of islets away from these areas, compared to putting up a contiguous property.”

It’s like starting the development right, and then imposing applicable laws to make sure environment is less impacted in line with Bohol keeping its International Standards on Environment Management by the ISO, Oculam further said.

These islets have better master plans anticipating solid and liquid waste management, power generation and water services utilities, sewers and road networks in its planned island theme parks, retirement homes and major high end strips, Oculam said with high hopes.

OLIDI went into series of barangay public hearings last year to explain the plan and the results were more than it expected.

People from Doljo and Danao have seen the potential for better life with the development plan, adding that even a hotcake baker is optimistic the coming of more hotel staff means more sales and better food for her family, he noted.

“I have six daughters, I do not expect them to go out and fish,” a fisherman from Doljo once said. “Getting them service jobs in those planned resorts by OLIDI would keep them near us when we grow old instead of going abroad.”

“If Governor Chatto however cancels the MOA, these dreams would be nipped in the bud,” said Oculam but added they are not giving up easily.

Already unanimously approved by the past SP under then Vice Governor Julius Caesar Herrera, the joint-venture MOA was referred back for further studies to the Bohol legislative body, months after Gov. Edgar Chatto became governor, narrated Oculam during the Kapihan sa PIA recently.

At the forum aired live over DyTR, Oculam feigned surprise how most senior members of the board who green-lighted the agreement they reviewed, suddenly reversed their stands.

The said MOA, Oculam said, contains the express permit for the parties to initiate scientific studies to finally take on the feasibility of the proposal to put up comprehensively planned artificial islets.

“We want the scientific study to start, not because we want to be proven right, but because we will need the study to convince our investors that we are doing right,” he said.

And like the MOA stipulation, if the study shows the resource use is not judicious, we would immediately withdraw the plan, Oculam pressed. (mbcn/rahc/PIA-Bohol)

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