The Aboitiz Group, through its social development arm Aboitiz Foundation and AboitizPower business unit Davao Light and Power Company, renewed its commitment to intensify conservation efforts for the marine turtle or pawikan, particularly the critically endangered hawksbill turtle in Davao City.
Aboitiz signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on January 10, 2019 with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Davao City local government to establish a Pawikan Center — a rescue and hatchery facility at the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park.
The center has a temporary shelter, clinic, laboratory, observation deck, boardwalks, and other facilities for the rescue, rehabilitation, conservation, protection, and care of marine turtles in Punta Dumalag. This supports the multi-sectoral effort of “pursuing sustainable development within the context of a balanced ecology.”
“Davao is truly blessed to be a nesting site of marine turtles, which is a keystone species in maintaining the balance in our ecosystem. It is clear that the government and the private sector must work together to protect these endangered animals before it becomes too late,” said Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
“We commend the Aboitiz Group, Davao Light and Power Co., and the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park,” she added, noting that over 3,000 pawikan hatchlings have been released from the park.
With the signing, the Davao City government reiterates its commitment to protecting various pawikan species.
“We look forward to the creation of the Pawikan Rescue Center in Punta Dumalag, which will aim to protect the plant and animal life thriving in the marine eco-park,” Duterte-Carpio said.
“Thank you to Aboitiz. DENR is very blessed to have you. Truly, DENR Sec. Roy Cimatu will be grateful,” said Ruth Tawantawan, DENR Assistant Secretary for Eastern Mindanao.
As part of this project, Aboitiz will also continue to plant endemic trees to maintain biodiversity in the area.
“Today, after more than 13,000 mangrove seedlings planted and more than 3,000 hatchlings released, we renew our commitment,” AboitizPower Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Distribution Group Jim Aboitiz, who led the conglomerate’s delegation to the MOA signing.
“All over the country, the Aboitiz Group’s response to the DENR’s lead in environmental preservation demonstrates our sustainability mindset. Through the projects we implement together, we ensure that we head full speed towards our promise of advancing business and communities,” he added.
Apart from protecting the nesting areas at the park, the Pawikan Center aims to identify, document, and address threats to marine turtles and their habitats in Punta Dumalag; promote research, monitoring and information exchange; enhance public awareness on the conservation initiatives in the area; and fortify the collaboration between the public and private sectors for the long-term recovery of the pawikan population in the area.
The DENR will provide technical assistance, facilitate information and education campaigns on marine turtle conservation, and establish Punta Dumalag as a critical habitat for marine turtles, among others.
Meanwhile, the Davao LGU, through a local ordinance, will strengthen the enforcement of existing laws relevant to the conservation efforts, assist the DENR in the establishment of Punta Dumalag as a critical habitat for marine turtles, provide manpower support for the project, and furnish DENR with monitoring reports.
In 2007, the Sangguniang Panglungsod of Davao City declared the shoreline extending 300 meters seaward in Punta Dumalag as a Marine Protected Area. In 2015, Aboitiz inaugurated the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park to serve as an example of an urban-based habitat conservation initiative in the area.
Through the Aboitiz Foundation, the Aboitiz Group carries out various environmental initiatives in partnership with the government. These include the A-Park, its largest national reforestation initiative that supports DENR’s National Greening Program; Race to Reduce Program, which promotes resource efficiency; and the rehabilitation of Boracay Wetland No. 4 as part of the island’s environmental rehabilitation.