News Environment


Former Davao City councilor Leonardo Avila at the height of his popularity as the “godfather” of Hawksbill marines turtles in Punta Dumalag, releasing to sea captured turtles after rehabilitation at the Turtle Sanctuary

NO. 104 APR 16-22, 2012

   durian beatA politician in Zamboanga City is under severe fire from his constituents for abandoning his old cause to promote the protection and conservation of marine turtles. As the story went, the politician gained popularity before the 2010 elections for his ‘love for the marine turtles’ that he used in the political campaign to lure the votes. The issue was popular to environment-conscious Zamboanguenos and the politician won a seat in the local council all because he said he loved turtles.
He has altogether forgotten the turtles as soon as he won, and the Zamboanguenos are accusing him as a fake environmentalist and have vowed not not give him a single vote in the next election in 2013.
The joke going around Zamboanga is that even the Hawksbill marine turtles would be campaigning for him in the coming polls.
In Davao City, city agriculture officer-in-charge Leo Avila, as a city councilor, was immensely popular because he was instrumental for the establishment of the turtle sanctuary in Punta Dumalag. He loved turtles so much that you can hear him on radio, see him on television and read him in the newspapers talking day and night about his beloved Hawksbills that he has earned the monicker Ninja Turtle.


The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC) were so impressed by Avila’s honeymoon with the Hawksbills that they gave him subsantial funds (WWF in dollars, the DLPC in pesos) to help him run his Turtle Sanctuary in Punta Dumalag.
Like the Zambo politician, Dabawenyos initially loved Avila for his love for turtle while sitting as a member of the Davao City Council where he chaired the committee on environment. Turtles, many agree, helped Avila won a seat in the local legislative council.
But like the Zmbo pol, Avila too altogether forget about the marines turtles as soon and he is being accused of using the marine animals as tool for his political career.
The issue about Avila and the turtles has resurfaced as Avila, whose only passport to be city aggie OIC appears to be that he has run out the one-year ban on former elective officials  to hold a government office, is being accused of allowing commercial fish cages in Punta Dumalag.
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said in a recent report on water analysis study said Punta Dumalag is in a state of massive pollution because of the fish cages.
Fish in the cages are fed with fish meals which excesses in time deteriorate to lead to poor water quality and threaten marine life, including Avila’s turtles, in the Punta Dumalag area.
In plain and simple talk, Avila by allowing the fish cages has destroyed the habitat of the turtles that he once loved so much.


Talk about fakery of gargantuan proportions.
We heard Avila is making a comeback to the city council in the coming elections next year.
This early we hear talks about Hawksbills in Mindanao, including those in Punta Dumalag, joining forces to campaign against Avila and the Zambo politician.

Aggie chief blamed for

Punta Dumalag pollution

Matina Aplaya village head Jimmy Poliquit has blamed acting city agriculturist Leonardo Avila for the proliferation of fish cages in Punta Dumalag pinpointed by a government study as behind massive pollution.
A recent water analysis and study by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) of the Punta Dumalag area showed prevalence of bacteria that it traced to the fish cages.
Poliquit in a television interview said Avila’s office instigated the entry of fish cages in Punta Dumalag as part of livelihood program promoting marine resources.
Poliquit said Avila did not consult his village council. He said he was aware about pollution that the fish cages could cause to Punta Dumalag are Times Beach marine areas, which are being promoted by his village as a tourist destination.
The fish cages have been subjected to a public hearing following the DOST study, with City Hall recommending their immediate closure. The Davao City Council committee on environment chaired by Marissa Abella and the committee on agriculture headed by Conrado Baluran also probed the existence of the illegal fish cages.
Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said a study is needed before closing down the fish cages saying that investments and livelihood are involved.
Operators of the fish cages are said to have to business permit to operate from the local government.


November 30, 2006
Turtle summit set December 7-8

A TURTLE Summit will be conducted in Davao City on December 7 and 8 to encourage all local government units (LGUs) to help in the protection of the endangered marine turtles found within the Davao Gulf.

Davao City Councilor Leonardo Avila III said the summit will invite all 23 coastal LGUs in the region to participate in the preservation of the five out of seven marine turtle species sighted at the Davao Gulf.

The summit will also highlight the best practices in turtle protection being undertaken by the City Government of Davao, which will be shared to other LGUs for duplication.

Avila said they will also be sharing pertinent details of the IOSEA Protocol (Indian Ocean SouthEast Asia) with the participants. The protocol aims to protect, conserve, and rehabilitate marine turtle sanctuaries in all of the 26-country signatories including the Philippines.

Asked if they are winning the battle, Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Southern Mindanao Parks and Wildlife Division chief Manuel Isip said they have a very positive outlook on their advocacy.

“We are winning the battle. We will never fail with the support of the people,” Isip said.

Task Force Pawikan had been conducting information campaign in 10 coastal barangays in Davao City where sightings of marine turtles are reported.

Avila said this is to ensure that residents in the area would not harm the sea turtles but help protect them.

Next month, two turtle nests are expected to hatch at Punta Dumalag Turtle Sanctuary.

Avila said this will bring the number of hatchlings to more than 2,000 since they started their operation there.

Among the marine turtle species found in Davao Gulf are the Hawksbill, Oliver Ridley, Green Sea Turtle, Loggerhead, and the Leatherback. (BOT)

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