Massive highway planned for Philippines’ Palawan Island


Mayo-Anda also noted that larger metropolitan centers such as Davao, located in the southern Philippines with a population of roughly 1.5 million, do not have six-lane highways traversing hundreds of kilometers.

Many critics agree the tourism explanation simply doesn’t add up.

Instead, Chan with Palawan NGO Network said his organization is suspicious of corrupt local government officials potentially putting pressure to move forward with the project for ulterior purposes, such as eased transport of products for mining and timber.

“This cannot serve a great many of th

e poor in our province, who need more farm-to-market roads connecting to the highway than the greedy six-lane venture,” Chan noted.

Whether or not Palawan’s burgeoning touris

m industry actually merits the development, it’s clear that native wildlife and ecosystems would suffer dramatically.

From an environmental perspective, the project would have a wide range of direct impacts: noise pollution, hydrological disruptions, animal collisions, loss of habitat and habitat fragmentation. For example, stream-dwelling amphibians with sensitivities to siltation, such as the Palawan flat-headed frog (Barbourula busuangensis) categorized as Vulnerable, could suffer significantly from increased erosion.


Palawan peacock-pheasant (Polyplectron napoleonis), Palawan, Philippines. Photo credit:

But it’s the indirect impacts that hover ominously behind the potential construction of a superhighway, according to experts.

“Roads kind of follow a ‘death by a thousand cuts’ model,” Scheffers said. “Increased access to remote regions of the island will undoubtedly create significant runoff and siltation issues for streams as well as surrounding coral reefs. It will trigger illegal logging, illegal poaching, direct mortality of wildlife from road traffic, and loss of habitat from new settlements.”

Whether the project will go through remains unclear. But it’s clear the government’s decision will play a significant role in shaping the future of Palawan’s fragile natural world.




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