Local execs set terms for Aklan project support Caticlan Reclamation
Municipal officials of Malay town in Aklan have given their “conditional” support to a controversial reclamation project being undertaken by the provincial government in Barangay Caticlan, the jump-off point to Boracay Island.
But Dionisio Salme, the president of Boracay Foundation Inc. (BFI), said business owners on the world-famous island would not withdraw their petition pending at the Supreme Court and would wait for a final ruling on it. The high tribunal earlier suspended the reclamation project.
In a resolution approved unanimously during the municipal council’s regular session on Feb. 28, the officials withdrew their opposition to the project but said they would revoke their endorsement if the provincial government failed to comply to certain conditions.
These include a 2.6-hectare limit of the project coverage and for the provincial government to conduct a comprehensive study on environmental impact and to implement possible mitigating measures.
The council also required the allocation of office space for the municipality in the building proposed in the reclaimed area and to ensure that local transportation operators would not be displaced.
Malay Councilor Jonathan Cabrera, a member of the committee on laws, described the resolution as a “win-win” solution for all parties in the dispute. Governor Carlito Marquez earlier asked the council’s support for the project.
The Supreme Court issued a temporary environmental protection order on June 7, 2011, against the reclamation project based on a petition for a writ of mandamus filed by the BFI. The group cited a study of University of the Philippines marine biologists showing that the project could affect the current and flow of the tides in the area and might cause further erosion of portions of Boracay’s beach.
The BFI asked the court to suspend the project pending the conduct of an environmental impact assessment and to revoke the reclamation permit.
The Malay municipal council had also passed several resolutions against the project claiming that it was not adequately consulted and citing environmental concerns. The town’s Association of Barangay Captains is also against the project.
In its comment submitted to the Supreme Court, the provincial government said it would implement the project only within the 2.64-ha area even if the Philippine Reclamation Authority approved a 40-ha reclamation area, including 36.82 ha in Caticlan and 3.18 ha in Boracay.
The project, funded by a P260-million credit financing through bond flotation payable in 20 years, is the initial phase of a P1.3-billion project involving the expansion of jetty port facilities, reclamation of coastline areas and the building of commercial buildings for offices, a health and wellness center and other businesses.
Proponents have said the project is part of infrastructure facilities needed to accommodate the increasing number of tourists in Boracay. Tourist arrivals were expected to reach a million this year.