CONFLICT is brewing in San Fernando, Cebu after the contractor of a controversial multi-million international port is implementing the project despite an executive order issued by the mayor preventing them from doing so.
Mayor Lakambini “Neneth” Reluya is seeking the help of the Cebu Provincial Government and other agencies to stop the backfilling activities conducted by the First Sangat SF International Port Corp. in their town.
First Sangat is operated by businessman Ruben Feliciano, who sued Reluya and other local officials before the anti-graft office earlier this year.
But Feliciano challenged Reluya to personally stop his operations in Barangay Sangat.
In an interview, Reluya told SunStar Cebu that her personnel found out that trucks from First Sangat started to do backfilling and other activities in the coastal village last Tuesday.
Reluya said First Sangat is defying her executive order after securing a provisional permit to construct a private non-commercial port from the Cebu Ports Authority (CPA).
Feliciano sent her a notice he provided to CPA General Manager Angelo Verdan to start development on the international port.
Feliciano also included a certification from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) 7 issued in September last year that allowed him to proceed with the project.
However, Reluya said the certification from EMB was issued when First Sangat was still partners with Melekon Contractors Inc. for the project.
First Sangat filed a complaint against MCI last year after MCI allegedly started reclaiming and constructing structures in Barangay Sangat without securing a permit to develop and build a port there.
Reluya asked the Capitol’s Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro) and Police Regional Office 7 to assist them in stopping the project.
“I am still exhausting all of my administrative options. If they (First Sangat) refused to comply, then there will be conflict,” she said.
In her executive order, Reluya had stopped the project due to legal controversies and sudden proponent changes that plagued First Sangat.
Reluya also cited a letter by President Rodrigo Duterte to First Sangat to settle the issues and concerns raised by fishing communities in the village who claimed that they were “denied of their right to livelihood.”
But Feliciano claimed that Reluya’s executive order is a form of harassment.
He said that Reluya initially endorsed the project but had a change of heart when the memorandum of agreement between MCI and First Sangat was revoked last year.
“Tell her (Reluya) to go there and stop me personally. Her executive order issued last February 27, 2018 is purely illegal. I don’t recognize that. She has no basis for stopping me,” he told SunStar Cebu in a text message. (JKV)