BATANGAS CITY – LAKAS Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) vice presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte on Wednesday afternoon vowed to work for the rehabilitation of Crown-of-Thorns (COTS) in the coastal area of Batangas, specifically the Isla Verde Passage.
“As you know, ang pinakamabilis na pagpasok ng pera sa isang local economy sa isang lugar is tourism dahil yung mga turista, nagdadala sila ng pera na hindi galing dito sa loob ng ating lugar.
They bring in the money, they spend the money, at iiwan nila ang pera nila dito. So can you imagine kung maganda yung tourism industry but at the same time we also protect the environment for the future generations,” Duterte said in a meeting with officers and stakeholders of the tourism sector at the Provincial Capitol Auditorium here.
Stressing the importance of focusing on the abundance of tourists visiting the local places in the country for a better economic flow within a local government unit, she said the gathering is very crucial for the rehabilitation of the coral reefs as the continuation of COTS infestation points to an unhealthy reef ecosystem.
“What we are doing here this afternoon is very crucial important for the environment and for the country. And of course, nandito din ang ating mga tourism stakeholders,” Duterte, chairperson of Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP), said.
Batangas Vice Governor Mark Leviste introduced Duterte as the guest of honor by taking pride in her achievements in Davao City’s tourism sector.
“As mayor of Davao City, she has reopened the tourism doors of her local government unit by implementing the safety seal protocols for all the balikbayans and tourists visiting Davao City. She continues to promote Davao in international tourism, particularly with Korea, through the implementation of their tourism exchange program. And under her leadership, Davao is poised to be the next sports tourism hub,” Duterte said.
He added: “A beautiful country deserves a beautiful face. Kailangan ng ating bayan na may puso ng isang ina at higit sa lahat nagmamahal sa Pilipinas and our guest of honor is the fairest of them all.”
The province of Batangas is known for its Isla Verde Passage that is one of the world’s most productive ecosystems. Its success is in increasing strain on its waters’ capacity to deliver, as it becomes increasingly important to economic activities such as fishing and shipping.
Its underwater ecosystem, however, paints a different story since local officials are becoming concerned that an invasion of crown-of-thorns starfish is doing havoc on the island’s coral reefs.
“You are very lucky (Batangueños) dahil nasa inyo ang karangalan na alagaan ang Verde Passage and ang Isla Verde as well. And i-protect at i-save ito for the future generations because 50 years from now, wala na po tayong lahat dito. Iba na po ang nakatayo rito, iba na po ang nakaupo diyan, and we hope that they will still enjoy that biodiversity na nandiyan sa ating Verde Passage,” Duterte said.
She added: “Akala po natin na starfish lang ito pero we need to do something about it and it is an emergency already dahil it threatens our Verde Passage and Isla Verde.”
Starfish contribute to the diversity of the reef by devouring faster-growing coral species, allowing slower-growing coral species to survive. But an outbreak of the COTS might be alarming as it can devour a huge amount of corals where fishes will be left with no habitat in the coral areas.
Duterte is a known advocate in developing thriving businesses and tourism industries in Davao that helped the city achieve a high percent growth rate.