Environment and heritage advocates are opposing a plan by the government to put up a “mega vaccination centre” in an urban forest, saying the short-term use of the property of the Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF) will result in long-term ecological damage.
Lucille Karen Malilong-Isberto, the NPF executive director, resigned on Thursday due to a conflict with Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat over the project that would require chopping down about 500 trees at the NPF’s property in Entertainment City, the reclaimed area in Paranaque City known for its casinos.
The heritage group Dakilang Pamana ng Lahi (Pamanlahi) said the proposed vaccination site would endanger the “park’s growing ecosystem” and “urban wildlife” as the site is close to the Las Pinas-Paranaque critical habitat and protected wetland and is home to about 25 bird species.
“The green and fresh environment that is open and free, a large public space that is much-needed by the people of Metro Manila, will be destroyed and will disappear, ” the group said.
The NPF, a government-owned and controlled corporation attached to the Department of Tourism, also expressed the same concerns.
A government source familiar with the proposed project said more than half of the NPF’s 15ha property would be used for the vaccination facility, which would include roads and a parking lot.
In a statement on Thursday, the NPF said the property “is not a vacant lot but has a thriving urban forest that hosts a variety of urban wildlife and is the last remaining grassland in the reclaimed area of Paranaque”.
“The abrupt cutting of close to 500 trees and other site works on the NPF property will kill the existing ecosystem, ” the statement added.
“A mega vaccination facility that will destroy this ecosystem would be a disaster and a disservice to the residents of Metro Manila who need more green and open spaces.” — Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN