Palace urged: Shelve reclamation plans for 10 years-A A +A
Saturday, February 23, 2013
CEBU CITY – Environmentalists and a group of fishers in Central Visayas are asking the National Government to stop for at least 10 years all reclamation projects proposed by local government units (LGU).
The Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center (CVFDC) is asking Cebuanos to support the move, saying that seven reclamation projects are lined up in Metro Cebu, which could damage some 6,000 hectares of marine life.
CVFDC executive director Owen Fhem Migraso said the seven reclamation projects are part of the 102 reclamation projects in the National Reclamation Plan (NRP). Put together, these would cover 38,000 hectares of foreshore areas.
The projects, Migraso said, already went through the scrutiny of the Philippine Reclamation Authority.
The reclamation projects in Cebu will supposedly be in Naga City (350 hectares), Minglanilla (340 hectares), Talisay City (994 hectares), Consolacion (209 hectares), Mandaue City (207 hectares), North Mactan (400 hectares) and Cordova (3,500 hectares).
“These are reclamation projects that will virtually change the map of Cebu,” said Migraso in a forum Saturday in the Cebu Cultural Center in Lahug.
The forum was organized by the political science students of the University of the Philippines in Cebu.
For the Cordova project alone, Migraso disclosed that its damage to the marine life is estimated to cost at least P2 billion.
Interviewed separately, Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy threatened to sue those who claim that his town is proposing a reclamation project that spans over 3,000 square meters.
“I hope to have a copy (of their letter) because I will sue them for maligning Cordova,” Sitoy said.
He explained that the proposed reclamation in his town, in a site adjacent to their newly finished port, covers only 10 hectares and was initiated by Cebu Province. So far, only two hectares have been reclaimed.
The Malayan Integrated Industries Corp. had proposed to reclaim 3,400 hectares in 1999. But that has long been shelved.
At the forum, Migraso lamented that when local governments propose a reclamation project, they only calculate the cost of its implementation and do not include environmental costs.
Migraso said reclamation projects damage, among others, seagrasses whose value is more than that of coral reefs.
The production value of corals, Migraso said, is only $16,000 or at least P640,000 per hectare per year, while that of seagrasses is $19,000 or at least P760,000 per hectare per year.
Seagrasses, he said, are important to the marine ecosystem as these provide a habitat for infant marine animals such as prawns and fish.
Aside from their environmental costs, Migraso said reclamation projects displace thousands of people whose livelihood depends on the sea.
Loss of jobs?
When the Cebu City Government implemented the South Road Properties (SRP), Migraso said some 10,000 people lost their livelihood.
“Reclamation projects are mired with violent displacement of livelihood, destruction of natural resources and complete disregard of law,” he said.
This was reiterated by environment advocate Dr. Zara Hildegarde Amper of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and History of the University of San Carlos.
Amper conducted a study on the impact of SRP on the lives of people living in Sitio Alumnos in Barangay Basak Pardo, one of the 10 coastal barangays affected by the project.
When the SRP was implemented, Amper said, majority of the livelihood of people in Alumnos drastically changed and their income decreased.
Amper said almost all of them stopped fishing and resorted to irregular temporary livelihood strategies such as making jewelry boxes for export, for which they were paid P.50 per box.
“The people there said they prefer to have the sea back so they will have food as well as income,” said Amper during the forum.
Kabataan Partylist Representative Raymond Palatino said that reclamation projects do affect the fishers, who are already the poorest sub-sector in the country.
He added that these projects make the country more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as flooding.
Palatino said he supports the proposal to implement a 10-year moratorium on reclamation projects.
If granted, Migraso said the moratorium will allow government to review the national policy on reclamation as well as assess past and future reclamation projects.
For those projects found to have not complied with the Local Government Code, such as conducting genuine consultations, Migraso said they are recommending cancellation.
They also recommended the cancellation of reclamation projects that have received strong opposition from the communities.
CVFDC has sent a people’s resolution for a 10-year moratorium on reclamation projects to the Office of the President. (Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 24, 2013.