Shipyard workers ask Duterte to stop Cebu reclamation project
CEBU CITY—At least 2,000 shipyard workers in Consolacion, Cebu, are seeking the help of President Rodrigo Duterte to stop a 235.8-hectare reclamation project in the town’s Tayud village, fearing that they would lose their jobs if local officials push with the area’s development.
“We have been here for about five decades now. These shipyards employ hundreds of workers who have mouths to feed and children who are now in school,” the workers said in a petition sent to Malacañang on Wednesday.
“What will happen to us and our families? Where do we go from here since shipbuilding and ship repair are all we know?” they asked.
Copies of the petition will also be sent to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippine Reclamation Authority, Department of Labor and Employment, and Consolacion municipal government.
Consolacion Mayor Joannes Alegado, however, urged those opposing the project to stop their “misleading tactics” as these would deprive the majority of the greater possibilities for growth.
“As a responsible elected leader of the town, I would give the best for my people and foster [their] welfare. It is my duty to protect and preserve our aspiration for a better and brighter future,” he said in a text message to the Inquirer on Wednesday.
Based on the petition, the shipyard employees in Consolacion said they were not consulted on the reclamation project.
“We demand that our voices be heard. We demand that our cry against the project’s implementation be given utmost consideration by its proponents and the local officials of Consolacion town,” they said.
They rued the difficulty of looking for a new job in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic which has disrupted the economy.
Impact on maritime industry
The shipyard workers also cited the impact of the reclamation project on the environment as well as the local shipbuilding industry.
“The shipyards in Barangay Tayud also cater to hundreds of ships, both privately or government-owned. Where will these vessels go for repair if our shipyards are replaced with reclaimed land? Imagine the project’s effects on the maritime industry and the safety of vessels using the Cebu North Channel,” they said.
“To the project proponents and officials of the municipality of Consolacion, what we need is a project that will help improve our lives and give us the security of tenure, not something that will result in our displacement and will leave our families hungry,” they added.
The local government wants to take over the foreshore area occupied by the six shipyards to form part of the project called “Seafront City” in partnership with a private consortium, La Consolacion Seafront Development Corp. (LCSDC).
Environmental lawyer Rose-Liza Osorio, policy and legal director of the environmental group Oceana Philippines, and urban poor leader Edward Ligas, however, questioned the capacity of LCSDC to undertake project.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) records showed that LCSDC was incorporated in October 2019 with a capital investment of P10 million.
Both Ligas and Osorio also pointed out that LCSDC’s incorporators included incumbent Rep. Victor Yap of Tarlac province and his brother, Jose Jr., former mayor of San Jose town, also in Tarlac.
Osorio, citing Article VI, Section 14 of the 1987 Constitution, said a member of the House of Representatives should not “directly or indirectly, be interested financially in any contract with, or in any franchise or special privilege granted by the government, or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including any government-owned or controlled corporation, or its subsidiary, during his term of office.”
“Any director of a private firm should not engage in government affairs, in the same manner that government officials should divest of his or her functions if they are directors of a private firm otherwise they may engage in a conflict of interest,” Osorio said.
When reached for comment, Yap maintained that it was not illegal for a lawmaker to own a corporation.
“But if you are suggesting conflict, then I may as well divest in the company to put the issue to rest. I think it will [bode] well for other parties in their uncertain quest to help Consolacion develop,” he said in a text message sent to the Inquirer earlier.
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