Groups question Japanese shipyard in Hinobaan

Several groups have questioned the proposed construction of the Japanese shipbuilding facility in Hinobaan, the southernmost town of Negros Occidental.

Farmers and fisherfolk belonging to Kilusang Magbubukid Ng Pilipinas (KMP) will launch a broad people’s campaign to oppose the establishment of the Southern Negros Industrial Estate (SNIE) in the town.

In a statement, KMP said the project is a local public-private partnership initiated by the provincial government of Negros Occidental and will be supported by a Japanese shipbuilding company. It will establish the first economic zone in the province starting January 2017.

Earlier this week, Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. and the executives of Tsuneishi Heavy Industries Inc. inked a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Japan.

The press statement said that from October 25 to 27, several farmers’ groups conducted a fact-finding mission in the affected coastal village of Bacuyangan to determine the possible impact of the proposed project to the farmers, fisherfolk, and residents.

They claimed the project will affect and displace hundreds of people as the target site sits on the productive agricultural and agro-forest lands in the barangay, the statement said.

The target lands for the ecozone project were reportedly expropriated by the provincial government in 2014 and that the province has a pending petition for land conversion for 127 hectares of land that comprises the former properties of Insular Lumber Company that closed down in 1983.

Meanwhile, Green Alert Network is questioning the legality of the signing of MOU between the governor and the Japanese firm that is aiming to build a ship recycling project in the town despite the opposition of many locals, farmers, civil society, and other groups.

In a press statement, the environmental group said they asked for a blueprint or any relevant document regarding the proposed project from the provincial government.

They added that the governor responded that they are still in the process of conceptualizing the project.

Green Alert said that they feel “deceived” that the governor had already signed the MOU.

They said they are “seeking clarification since there is no transparency on the project.”

“What is the mandate of the Governor’s Office to sign an MOU without the people’s endorsement and even environmental impact assessment since full grown mangroves will be destroyed?” the group asked.

They added that Green Alert would “not want to have the same story again, wherein laws and policies are circumvented and plans reneged to accommodate dubious projects.”

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