Bays in 2 Samar provinces, Leyte added to list of red tide positive areas

THE BUREAU of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has warned consumers against eating shellfish harvested from Daram Island and Cambatutay Bay in Western Samar, Matarinao Bay in Eastern Samar, and Carigara Bay in Leyte after testing positive for red tide contamination. In its first shellfish bulletin for 2021, BFAR said these areas are the latest additions to the list of red tide positive zones in the country, which include Honda and Puerto Princesa Bays and Inner Malampaya Sound in Palawan; Milagros in Masbate; Sorsogon Bay in Sorsogon; and Dauis and Tagbilaran City in Bohol. Other areas that are affected by red tide include Tambobo Bay in Negros Oriental; Zumarraga in Western Samar; Calubian and Cancabato Bay in Leyte; Biliran Islands; Guiuan in Eastern Samar; Balite Bay in Davao Oriental; Lianga Bay and Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur; and Dumanquillas Bay in Zamboanga del Sur. All types of shellfish and Acetes sp. or alamang harvested from these areas are not safe for human consumption. However, other marine species can be eaten with proper handling.  Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

4 farmers to represent PHL in 2021 International Cocoa Awards

FOUR farmers were declared winners in the Philippine Cacao Quality Awards 2021 on Wednesday and will be representing the country in the International Cocoa Awards (ICA) set October 2021 in Paris, the Agriculture department’s Davao regional office announced. The winners, among 23 cacao bean entries submitted, are: Christopher Fidraga of Bago City, Negros Occidental; Arthur Lagoc of Tugbok District, Davao City; Solidad Robillo of Gumalang of Baguio District, Davao City; and Carlos Brasicula of San Isidro, Davao del Norte. Malagos Agri-Ventures President Charita P. Puentespina, chair of the Philippine awards this year, said showcasing the produce as well as best practices of the local cacao industry in the international scene “will create market linkages which will open more market doors and vast opportunities for our cacao farmers.” “We are confident with our national entries to the ICA as we believe on the unique and exceptional quality of our cocoa. For years, Filipino cacao farmers have been making it big in the international market. This has been made possible with the support from the Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry, and the Davao City Agriculture Office,” Ms. Puentespina said in a statement from the DA-Davao. In 2019, Jose Saguban of Paquibato District in Davao City, a partner farmer of Auro Chocolate, bagged the country’s first Top 20 Best Cacao Beans Award in Salon du Chocolat Paris. — MSJ

Samal-Davao bridge gets ECC; design-build contract under final review 

THE design-and-build contract for the bridge that will connect Samal island to mainland Mindanao is now under final review after the project was recently granted an environmental compliance certificate (ECC), according to a public works official. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) “is now reviewing and perfecting the Contract for Design and Build for the Samal Island-Davao City Connector project,” Undersecretary Emil K. Sadain said in a text message last week. He said the ECC was released by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on January 4. DENR issued the Protected Area Management Board clearance in November last year. Mr. Sadain said once the contract is fully reviewed, it will be submitted to the Department of Finance for the loan negotiation with the Chinese government. The 2.8-kilometer bridge between Samal and Davao City is estimated to cost P23.04 billion and is planned for funding through official development assistance. Meanwhile, the legal team of the Rodriguez family that is questioning the bridge’s design and location is eyeing to file administrative and criminal cases before the Office of the Ombudsman against those involved in the issuance of the clearance and ECC. “We are preparing a complaint against all those involved in the irregularity in the issuance of the PAMB clearance and the ECC. These people have violated the very procedure which they themselves crafted, in order to railroad the issuance of the ECC,” said lawyer Ramon Edison Batacan in a text message. The Rodriguez family, owner of Paradise Island and Beach Resort and Costa Marina Beach Resort in Samal, has asked DPWH to realign the landing platform of the bridge, citing adverse environmental impacts. — Maya M. Padillo