By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has led the groundbreaking on the first phase of a 100-hectare enterprise development project with auto giant Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. (MMPC) in Bangui, Ilocos Norte.
The first phase consists of a 30-hectare coffee and cacao plantation, and development of the historical Sentinella Hill into an eco-cultural tourist destination.
DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said the joint venture with MMPC project seeks to rehabilitate 100 hectares of forestland through sustainable integrated area development (SIAD) approach, which harnesses a community’s natural wealth to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth within the local economy.
Under the joint venture, MMPC would provide funds for SIAD projects to be identified by the DENR, which, in turn, will provide the technical requirements in terms of manpower skills and government support.
Cimatu underscored the importance of DENR’s “convergence approach” with the private sector and the local government to achieve equitable growth that will “improve the ecological condition of the country as well as the socio-economic status of the community.”
“Bangui’s initiatives to sustain its local tourism industry hinges well on its people’s desire to harness and protect its ecological condition,” Cimatu said.
Meanwhile, MMPC president and CEO Mutsuhiro Oshikiri said that environmental advocacy forms the core of the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) program with the assurance that “we, too, will be doing our part for the betterment of the environment.”
MMPC will initially release some P2.6 million for the two undertakings with some P1.9 million going to the Sentinella Hill project.
The amount will cover the cost of improving its access trail and slope stabilization; establishment of a 2.2-hectare plantation site; a seedling nursery; and construction of a look-out tower.
The Sentinella Hill, located in Barangay San Lorenzo, gives a commanding view of the entire nine-kilometer Bangui coastline that is famous for its windmill turbines, and panoramic view of the hills and coastline of neighboring towns of Burgos and Pagudpud.