PRA stops P80-M project

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Friday, March 30, 2012


THE Cordova Reclamation Project was ordered suspended by the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), whose officials said that all reclamation projects are under their office.

Capitol officials confirmed yesterday that PRA ordered the contractor last week to cease and desist from working on the P80-million reclamation project in Cordova town.

In a letter, the PRA also advised Gov. Gwen Garcia to coordinate with their agency on the implementation of the 20-hectare reclamation project.

Environmental protection advocates who earlier questioned the implementation of the project without approval from the PRA welcomed the issuance of the order.

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The latest snag to hit the Capitol-funded project is expected to further delay its completion, but the Province is bent on continuing with it.

Capitol consultant lawyer Rory Jon Sepulveda said the Province will continue to implement the project despite the cease and desist order issued to the contractor.

“PRA believes that all reclamation projects are under their office,” Sepulveda said in explaining the issuance of the cease and desist order.

Gov. Gwen Garcia and Provincial Attorney Marino Martinquilla confirmed that they received the notices on the cease and desist order from PRA, and said they already sent a reply.

For Martinquilla, the PRA cannot issue a cease and desist order to the contractor.

“Cease and desist order (issued by PRA) is improper and unauthorized pursuant to Sec
16 of the Local Government Code…The province is authorized to do reclamation projects funded through its local funds, di kapanghilabot ang PRA,” he said.

Citing Section 16 of the Local Government Code, the provincial attorney said the Province “shall exercise the powers expressly granted… as well as powers necessary, appropriate or incidental for its efficient and effective governance, and those which are essential to the promotion of the general welfare.”

He said the same law also authorizes the Province to undertake infrastructure projects intended to service the needs of residents of the province, and which are funded out of provincial funds, including reclamation projects.

Martinquilla said any conflict arising from this law, “it should be resolved in favor of the local government unit.”

In her news conference yesterday, Garcia said she considers the PRA’s cease and desist order moot and academic.

“We already terminated the services of the contractor,” the governor said.

Capitol terminated the services of the contractor last week after both parties agreed to rescind the contract. The contractor lamented that it was having difficulty meeting the deadline for the project’s completion because of the truck ban imposed by the Lapu-Lapu City Government.

Last March 9, fishermen from Cordova and non-government organizations led by environmental lawyer Gloria Estenzo-Ramos filed a complaint against Gov. Garcia, Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy and other government officials for abuse of authority, illegal use of public funds and grave misconduct for undertaking the reclamation project without PRA approval.

In an interview yesterday, Ramos said she is happy about the issuance of the cease and desist order, but said it will not stop them from pushing for a moratorium on reclamation projects in the country.

Instead of undertaking reclamation projects, local government officials of Cordova should focus on preserving the municipal waters, she said.

The Cordova Reclamation Project complements the town’s P30-million roll-on-roll-off port project in Sitio Camolinas in Barangay Poblacion.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 30, 2012.

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