EMB to Cebu town: Follow process on reclamation
CEBU CITY, Cebu Philippines — Officials of Consolacion town in Cebu province must follow the process stated under the law if they want to proceed with the local government’s 235.8-hectare reclamation project, an official of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said.
Mary Ann Bueno, officer in charge of the EMB’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) section, said her office received reports that fisherfolk and shipyard owners in the proposed reclamation area were not properly consulted about the project.
“If they (stakeholders) were not consulted, they can contest and require the proponents (Consolacion town officials) to really conduct a public scoping,” she said in an online dialogue on Monday.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) had issued a letter of no objection, attesting that no marine ecosystem would be affected by the project.
But in the same online forum, Annabella Pomento, president of the Consolacion Fisherfolk Association, rued that they were never consulted about the project.She said they were also surprised that the BFAR had issued a letter of no objection when they had been long fishing in the waters near the shipyards due to the presence of marine life in the area.
“We live because of the sea. What will be the future of our children if they will cover the sea with land?” Pomento said in Cebuano.
No EIA yet
Consolacion Mayor Joannes Alegado said they had yet to receive any EIA but they were done with the public scoping, or the initial preparatory meeting with communities hosting the project.
“There is also an upcoming technical scoping,” he told the Inquirer in a text message.
Under the procedure, technical scoping can only be conducted after the public scoping has been completed.
Nerito Acas-Martinez, a project consultant for Consolacion, said they followed all procedures so they could start with the reclamation project.
“EIA is the job of the EMB. We don’t know about it,” he said in a separate interview.
Consolacion wants to reclaim 235.8 ha in Barangay Tayud in partnership with a private consortium, La Consolacion Seafront Development Corp.
Appeal to Du30
But fisherfolk and Tayud residents, as well as the owners and workers of seven shipyards in the area, opposed the project, claiming that they were never consulted about it.
Separate letters were sent to President Duterte, asking him to intercede and stop the project. Even shipping industry players sought Mr. Duterte’s intervention since the closure of the seven shipyards would affect the shipping industry.
On Monday, environmentalist groups Oceana and the Philippine Earth Justice Center held an online multisectoral dialogue which was attended by, among others, government agencies.
Rich marine resources
During the forum, Dr. Filipina Sotto, a marine biologist and project leader of the FBS-Environment and Community Research and Development Services, a Cebu-based think thank focusing on environmental issues, said the proposed site had rich marine resources despite the presence of shipyards.
Fishermen from other towns fish in the area and would catch at least 7 kilograms of fish per hour, Sotto said, citing a study that her group conducted.
Complaints against the project had reached the Office of the President, said lawyer Joseph John Literal, assistant general manager of the Reclamation and Regulation Office of the Philippine Reclamation Authority, who was a guest in the forum.