THE Cebu Provincial Reclamation Authority (CPRA) gave the go signal for the development of the P138-billion Cordova Reclamation Project yesterday.

The next step is for the Provincial Board (PB) to endorse the project to the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA).

PB Member Arleigh Sitoy said the board endorsement will be taken up during the regular session on June 8, and the former mayor hopes that the project will get a favorable endorsement.

PB Member Thadeo “Teddy” Ouano said that following CPRA's certification of no objection, he and Sitoy will move for the PB endorsement to the PRA.

Ouano and Sitoy are board representatives of the sixth district, which covers the Cordova reclamation project.

Study

The PB will first refer the project to a committee.

“(For study) if the project has a good plan and if it will help the Province of Cebu,” said PB Sitoy.

Last April 6, the PB approved a resolution authorizing Cordova to undertake the reclamation project through a public-private partnership with SM Prime Holdings Inc. (SMPHI), the private proponent.

If the project gets the stamp of approval from the PRA, it will then be endorsed to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) board, chaired by the President Benigno Aquino III.

But Gov. Hilario Davide III is hopeful that it will be approved.

Mayor Adelino Sitoy earlier said that SMPHI will finance the 1,500-hectare reclamation that will connect Shell Island in the western part of the town to the lighthouse, and all the way to Lava Island in the southern part of the town.

PB Member Sitoy said that the reclamation project will complement the proposed third Mactan-Cebu City toll bridge, a project of his father, Mayor Sitoy, and to be implemented by the Metro Pacific Tollways Corp.

Environmentalists

Davide also assured environmentalists that the project will not be railroaded.

“The project will still go through a lot of bodies for approval,” Davide said.

“Nothing will proceed unless all those pertinent laws are observed,” PB Sitoy also said.

In the CPRA meeting, Davide said that the parties agreed on the sharing scheme wherein Capitol will get 10 percent of the area or about 150 hectares.

SMPHI will get 49 percent of the total 735 hectares. The remaining area will be shared by PRA and Cordova.

“We are after the (realization of the) project and not the sharing,” Mayor Sitoy said.

PB Member Sitoy also informed Davide that affected sectors in Cordova have already been consulted.

“It will not reach the point of signing the joint venture if there was no consultation, among others,” Davide also said.

According to the agreement, the fisher folks will be taken care of in terms of housing and livelihood, in case of displacement; as well as education and health programs.

Mayor Sitoy said that SMPHI agreed to prioritize 2,000 fisher folks in employment for the project and in SM.

But Mayor Sitoy said that the municipality’s fishing grounds measure 3,500 hectares and some 2,000 hectares will be left when the reclamation is completed.