Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Shipbuilding Industry In New Washington Is Aklan’s Pride


The luxury ferry boat of the Metallica Marine Consultancy Fabrication and Services being used in the Lagatik river cruise.

A full blown controversy has erupted between Mayor Edgar R. Peralta of New Washington and local investors of Dumaguit-Batan Ferries Corp. and Metallica Marine Consultancy Fabrication and Services headed by Engr. Jonathan R. Salvador. The letter of the Chief Executive (Mayor Edgar Peralta) dated April 30, 2013 charged the Corporation of gross violation of existing laws namely: lack of Mayor’s and business permits and Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the DENR. 

In a succeeding letter-response, Mayor Peralta further charged that the business enterprise is polluting the environment particularly Lagatik river and its tributaries through untreated sewage. Unless fully complied with closure is imminent, a threat?

“Metallica, Marine and Consultancy and Fabrication Services had never been remised in its obligation to comply with our laws”, said Engr. Jonathan Salvador, manager of the 3-year old enterprise. “It is duly registered with Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), possesses the legal and business permits to implement its vision/mission. Yes, it has a business address at Poblacion, New Washington but has opened a shipyard facility at its 1.7 hectares site in Polo, New Washington. The compound includes the ‘Yard’, a resto-bar offering services to passengers of the Lagatik river cruise. At a distance is sedimentation pond of three stages where hazardous chemical waste is collected and pumped periodically to another pond until clear and safe water is released to the river ecosystem”, explained Salvador.

I am bothered by reports that the Pinamuk-an Fisher folks and residents of Polo have adverse reactions about our project. They claim reduced fish catch because of worsening pollution in the area. Well, as an experienced seaman and shipbuilding technician in Norway for 20 years, we employ the best practical way of mitigating pollution here in Polo. We can prove by example that industrial growth could be achieved, harmonized and sustained alongside residential and commercial growth”, Engr. Salvador said further.

Fiberglass fabrication requires high technical skill and know-how considering handling of chemicals with deadly fumes and causing skin itchiness or allergies. Raw materials are polymer resin and fiberglass moulded together under pressure and allowed to dry. Fiberglass boats are most preferred over steel or aluminum hull type because it is more durable, cheapest and resistant to rust. 

The veracity of any fish kill in open or confined spaces of lakes or rivers must be immediately reported to local authorities. Food poisoning as a result of eating shellfish such as green mussels or oysters within the vicinity of the manufacturing hub could be reasonable grounds for violation of environmental laws.  

Former Bgry. Capt. of Polo and now New Washington SB member Jazel P. Bautista cited non-compliance of Engr. Salvador to get barangay clearance for the Metallica Shipyard. This may be a case of oversight but it is ironic that the Mayor’s and Business permits were issued to the applicant and corresponding fees duly paid for in January 21, 2013. That made securing barangay clearance optional.

Meanwhile, Ms. Rosan Victoriano, representative of Pinamuk-an Small Fisherfolks Assn. revealed that their members were not aware of relevant issues involved since they were made to sign a formal resolution using a BLANK PIECE OF PAPER. This is confirmed by SB member Celia C. Dela Cruz, concurrent Committee Chairperson on Agriculture and Fisheries. 

It is noted that ECC issued by DENR to Metallica Marine on May 14, 2013 has a business address at Poblacion, New Washington. This is pretty evident but as a shipbuilding contractor, it cannot operate or manage a shipyard facing the Sibuyan sea. It has to locate its site to more comfortable (and safe) place like a cove, inlet, lake or navigable waterways. What is more surprising that business permit issued by Mayor Peralta covering its contractor services is barangay Polo, New Washington. This is dated December 31, 2013. Nevertheless, Engr. Salvador has applied for a new ECC with DENR to resolve conflicting problems particularly LGU, New Washington.

It is disheartening that local investors in New Washington are harassed and intimidated using unverified information to subvert people’s will. Pity the small businessmen and expatriates who only express their love of country by investing in eco-tourism projects in New Washington. They desire no more fame or fortune but to create livelihood opportunities for marginalized sector of our society. Mrs. Remedios Ambrosio, former business Executive and wife of retired boat Captain Ernesto Ambrosio summed it all when she said: “we remain steadfast and committed to Aklanon’s dream of prosperity”. 

Our flourishing shipbuilding industry at Subic is now in radar screens of foreign investors. The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) based in Iloilo City strongly recommends Metallica Marine to ship owners, fishing boat operators and boat enthusiasts. It is considered Aklan’s pride since it turns out dependable seaworthy vessels. Among its patrons are from Iloilo City, Bacolod and Looc, Romblon. Servicing the fabrication and repair jobs is a pool of highly trained workers recruited from neighboring barangays. 

At this point in time, LGU leadership must show restraint, not vindictiveness against political enemies. Veiled threats and trumped up charges no longer work out but forging critical collaboration is the name of new game.

The presscon held at the “Yard” on July 9, 2013 was attended by 40 guests from LGU, New Washington, DENR Region 6 and Kalibo, fisherfolks association of Pinamuk-an and Brgy. Polo and investors of Dumaguit-Batan Ferries Corp. and Metallica Marine Consultancy Fabrication and Services. /MP         

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