22 March 2013

SBMA, stakeholders unite to plan for conservation of Subic Bay

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and other stakeholders in the Subic Bay area have joined hands to formulate a “doable” action plan for the conservation and protection of Subic Bay, a busy seaport which also provides for the livelihood of small fishers.

In the two-day “Subic Water Summit” that opened on Thursday, concerned community organizations, local government units, business locators, and national and regional government line agencies will discuss concerns and problems about Subic’s marine environment and hope to find solutions toward preserving Subic Bay and all its resources.

SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia said the multisector conference aims to translate into a viable program the commitment agreed upon by stakeholders during the first Subic Water Summit held in January 2010.

The declaration of commitment was signed by then-SBMA Chairman Feliciano Salonga, then-SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza, Bataan Gov. Enrique Garcia, then-Zambales Gov. Amor Deloso, Olongapo City Mayor James Gordon Jr., then-Subic Mayor Jeffrey Khonghun, Pastolan Ayta Chieftain Conrado Frenilla, then-Morong (Bataan) Mayor Cynthia Estanislao and other community leaders.

Garcia said through this year’s workshops and discussions, participants aim to formulate a three-year action plan that will define the steps to be taken collectively in conserving Subic Bay.

“There must be something we should do to rehabilitate Subic Bay and all other water resources not because we need clean water today, but to secure, preserve and conserve the healthy biodiversity of all of our water resources for the use of our future generations,” Garcia said.

The conference, which carries the theme “Isabuhay Natin ang Pangangalaga sa Ating Yamang-Tubig” opened on Thursday at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC), with related activities scheduled at Ayala Mall’s Harbor Point here.

In the summit, speakers are expected to present issues and concerns surrounding the quality of water in Subic Bay and other water resources in the free port.

Garcia said the event will also serve as a venue for the creation of a preparatory body, to be called the Subic Bay Water Quality Management, which shall be composed of representatives from various sectors.

Summit participants are also scheduled to drop microorganism-laden “Mabuhay [Bokashi] Balls” into the polluted Kalalake River which separates the Subic Bay Freeport from Olongapo City and empties directly into Subic Bay. The microorganisms are supposed to eat harmful bacteria in the water and become food for fishes and shells.

Other activities lined up for the second Subic Water Summit include a photo contest and exhibition portraying the importance of water conservation (March 21); painting contest and exhibition (March 23); Earth Hour (March 23); and “Artists for Clean Water,” a portrayal of songs and dances (March 30), all to be held at the Harbor Point here.

Subic Bay, which previously hosted a United States naval base, straddles the boundary of Zambales and Bataan provinces. It was transformed into a special economic and free port zone in 1992. (Henry Empeño, Business Mirror)