BACOLOD CITY: Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said that the Patag-Cadiz-Calatrava Road will bring development to the countryside of the province.

San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza said Friday said that the planned Patag-Cadiz-Calatrava Road runs through the protected forest in Northern Negros threatening important ecosystems.

Alminaza was one of the speakers at the Green SONA (State of Nature Assessment) with the theme "The continuing assault on nature: What are the ecological options?" at the University of Saint La Salle in Bacolod City recently.

A Green SONA resolution said that the Northern Negros National Park (NNNP) and the Philippine forests, in general, are threatened primarily by human activities, including road projects.

The governor said the road project is nationally funded by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

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"This road development project will make it easier to travel to central Negros from the north and help bring development to far-flung communities," he added.

"As long as they have an environmental compliance certificate and comply with other environmental laws I will support it," Lacson said.

The road project stretches for 3.7 kilometers and has a budget of P125 million.

In 2020, an online signature campaign created by the Negros Environmental Watch called for former president Rodrigo Duterte, the DPWH, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Lacson, and the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) to stop the road construction through the NNNP.

The road project traversing the NNNP protected area will harm endemic wildlife, disrupt the ecosystem, expose the forest to climate threats, and displace indigenous peoples and communities within the area, the petition posted on Bataris.com hosted by Greenpeace said.

Former DPWH regional director Leah Delfinado said the PAMB passed Resolution 134, series of 2020 on August 27 approving the DPWH road construction project, and the cutting of trees on both sides of the road in Barangay Minapasuk, Calatrava within the NNNP multiple use zones.