DOT asked to prove that tree-cutting not part of mega vax center plan

Published May 13, 2021, 3:43 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

An environmental group has demanded for more proof from the Department of Tourism (DOT) as to the latter’s claim that the construction plan for the mega vaccination center at the Nayong Pilipino Foundation’s (NPF) property in Parañaque City doesn’t involve the cutting of trees.

(Photo from Department of Tourism)

“The proponents of the mega vax center should demonstrate to the public the environmental impact assessment proving [that] no trees will be cut in the Nayong Pilipino Urban Forest Park,” Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) National Coordinator Leon Dulce said in a statement Thursday afternoon, May 13.

Dulce said the assessment should also demonstrate that “the risks of being situated near an isolation facility are mitigated”.

“More importantly, they should be able to demonstrate that they have exhausted all alternative options that are more cost-efficient, less risky, and closer to the people that need vaccination,” he said.

In a statement Wednesday, the tourism department said that no trees would be affected in the planned construction of the facility that, once finished, would inoculate an estimated 10,000 people daily from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

But the DOT premised this mostly on the involvement of “green architecture” advocate Jun Palafox in the project. Palafox will head the team of architects engaged in the design of the vaccination site.

“The environment is of paramount consideration in the architectural plans. The architectural team has made sure to build the temporary vaccination facility around existing grasslands and trees,” the DOT said.

Kalikasan PNE in a statement Tuesday echoed the concerns of the NPF Board of Trustees on the choice of the property as site for the high-capacity vaccination center.

“We find it questionable that a mega vaccination center is being forced on top of an important green space, when public health experts have been pushing for decentralizing vaccination hubs to bring them closer to the people instead,” said Dulce.

He claimed that it may even be less difficult and more cost-effective to retrofit existing structures or environments like malls, golf courses, and sports complexes so they may function as vaccination centers.

Billionaire businessman Enrique Razon Jr. will bankroll the mega vaccination facility’s construction via his International Container Terminal Service, Inc. (ICTSI) Foundation.

The NPF Board has yet to sign the memorandum of agreement for the project despite the approval of the DOT and the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19. The board and its mother agency, the DOT, are currently fueding over the issue.