To preserve SINP as pushed by Rep. Libanan

ROAD PROJECT. The 68.62 kms Maydolong (Eastern Samar) to Basey (Samar) road project will traverse the Samar Island Natural Park, a protected area. Due to this, the DPWH has had to redesign the project to ensure minimal tree cutting as suggested by Rep. Marcelino ‘Nonoy’ Libanan.(DPWH-Region VIII)

TACLOBAN CITY – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in the region has agreed to redesign a major road project connecting the provinces of Eastern Samar and Samar.

This decision was made because the project would traverse a significant portion of the Samar Island Natural Park (SINP), a protected area.

Instead of cutting down old and indigenous trees within the SINP, the DPWH has decided to use an old logging road that was constructed by a logging company operating in the area during the 1970s and early 1980s.

This decision was reached after a consultative meeting held on Tuesday (June 18) with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), initiated by Rep. Marcelino Libanan of the 4Ps party-list group.

The project involves constructing the Maydolong (Eastern Samar)-Basey (Samar) road, spanning 68.62 kilometers. This will reduce the travel time from Borongan City in Eastern Samar to Tacloban City, Leyte, to two hours from the current four-hour journey.

However, the project would traverse Marabut town in Samar, part of the SINP, a protected area of over 300,000 hectares that was submitted for consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2018.

The SINP is the largest contiguous tract of old-growth forest in the Philippines and the country’s largest terrestrial protected area, covering parts of the provinces of Samar, Eastern Samar, and Northern Samar.

“The project will enter the SINP, which is very crucial not just for Samar but for the world as a heritage site, and we are happy that our suggestion is being considered,” said Lormelyn Claudio, DENR executive regional director.

Using the old logging road, which is still in existence but now covered with vegetation, will minimize tree cutting compared to creating a new road, said Rep. Libanan.

“While some trees will still need to be cut, it will be minimal if we use the old logging road,” Libanan, who is also the minority floor leader of the House of Representatives, said.
The Maydolong-Basey road covers 40.55 kilometers within the SINP, with the old logging road accounting for more than 34 kilometers.

Libanan expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting between the DENR and DPWH, stating that the project, with a total cost of more than P3.31 billion, will not only reduce travel time but also help preserve the environment.

“This will be a model of engineering work and design because we are in a virgin forest beside a national highway,” he said.

According to Libanan, travelers using this proposed road project will be able to see the famous Sohoton Caves and waterfalls in the Basey, Samar area, as well as beaches and old-growth trees in Maydolong, Eastern Samar.

“It will be grandiose,” he said.

The project broke ground in July of last year and had a project accomplishment of 24.60% as of May 31 of this year. It is projected to be completed by 2025.