TACLOBAN CITY- A vessel that was washed inland in Quinapondan, Eastern Samar during the onslaught of supertyphoon Yolanda has resulted for the destruction of mangroves. Margarita de la Cruz, a known environmentalist and former professor of the University of the Philippines-Tacloban Campus, said that the vessel is owned by a mining company that operates in the province. According to her, the owner of the vessel is trying to pull it back to the waters which resulted for the destruction of the mangroves. De la Cruz said workers of the mining company cut the mangroves on their effort to tow the vessel back to the waters which was stuck in Barangay Santo Nino, Quinapondan town. The said vessel was washed inland 120 meters from the water as a result of a storm surge generated during the onslaught of Yolanda. “The national government has allocated P1 billion for the planting of mangroves and we have a case here of mangroves being destroyed wantonly,” she said. She said that mangroves are important not only because they serves as breeding grounds for fish but as barriers for storm surges. De la Cruz said that she is not aware if the action of the mining company cutting mangroves as it tow back the vessel to the water has permission from the local government or from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Quinapondan is estimated to have more than 900 has mangrove cover. Based on a study conducted by the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau, research arm of the DENR, the damage to mangrove sites due to Yolanda was estimated at 350 hectares in two out of the six mangroves sites bordering the Leyte Gulf Area. And close to seven months after Yolanda, most of the mangroves are still without leaves and could be dead. (JOEY A. GABIETA)