Caticlan airport conversion bad for the environment

Land specialist warns of ecological disaster

September 30, 2009

A land form specialist of the Department of Environment, Natural and Resources (DENR) warned on Tuesday that leveling the hill in the Caticlan Airport in Aklan will lead to ecological disaster in the world famous beach of Boracay island. The airport is the gateway to Boracay resort.

Dr. Ric Javellosa, of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau under the DENR, made the assessment after learning that the government will remove the hill as part of the expansion and upgrading of the Caticlan Airport into an international airport worth P2.5 billlion.

Javelosa also explained that the disaster would lead to “micro-climatic change” or disappearance of the entire white beaches around Caticlan and Boracay reportedly within 20 years.

Governor Carlito Marquez earlier welcomed the improvement of the Caticlan airport, but expressed concern about what he said was the lack of consultations on its being converted into an international airport facility.

Marquez told reporters that while he is not against the upgrading of the Caticlan airport – which is just a 10-minute boat ride to Boracay – he said it should “remain as a domestic airport,” just like what the Department of Transportation and Communications had briefed provincial officials last August.

He said it was alright for the Caticlan airport to accommodate bigger aircraft like 60-seater planes, instead of smaller ones, provided, however, that these are only for domestic flights.

Javelosa explained that leveling of hill and earthworks for expansion of airport lead to land and water quality deterioration, erosion and sedimentation.

“The existing domestic airport and proposed expansion into international airport rest on environmentally sensitive landforms,” the morphology expert said.

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