MORONG, Bataan – More than 6,000 high school and college students, local and foreign tourists, government officials and different people organizations converged last Sunday in the coastal village of Nagbalayong, this town, to participate in the 14th Pawikan Conservation Festival.
This year’s celebration reportedly garnered so far the highest number of visitors who witnessed the eco-tourism maintenance program of natural resources in the province.
Bataan governor Albert Raymond S. Garcia highlighted in his speech the critical role of marine turtles in maintaining the ecological equilibrium of the sea and forest ecosystem. Despite the unabated growth of coastal communities, the protection of turtles is valuable in sustaining a workable environment.
Garcia vowed to provide two (2) all terrain vehicles in support to the safety of marine turtles to be utilized in patrolling the six (6) kilometer breeding ground of Pawikan in the shoreline of Barangay Nagbalayong.
He added that GPS equipment and other necessary gears would be made available for the Bantay Pawikan volunteers which are needed for their daily and nightly monitoring of the shoreline from poachers.
Garcia led in the releasing of 80 hatchlings with Bataan mayors and guests which made the estimated total number of 102,000 since the project started almost two decades ago.
Manolo Ibias, Pawikan Conservation Center chairman, personally appealed to Governor Garcia for support in acquiring the vehicles and other equipment after two agencies turned down his group’s request.
He explained the threats to the lives of Pawikan are still imminent in spite of the concerned efforts of the government and people organizations.
Some marginalized people continue to sneak out and search for Pawikan eggs in the shores of this Morong town which they sell for P5 each to residents. To curb this problem Ibias said intensified patrolling and more livelihood options are needed.
Bataan Mayors League president Dinalupihan town mayor Maria Angela Garcia said the strengthening of culture of conservation is achieved with the annual observance of the Pawikan Festival.
She clarified that the local government units have been boosting the conservation of marine resources which remain the major source of income among marginalized people of Bataan.