THE Municipality of Consolacion will conduct today a Notice of Public Scoping for the proposed Seafront City Project, a 235.8-hectare reclamation project in consortium with a private entity, La Consolacion Seafront Development Corp. or La Consolacion. Last Jan. 6, Consolacion Mayor Joannes Alegado hastily called a public consultation, which surprised some of the stakeholders prompting them to ask for further consultation. Thus, another round will be held this morning at the municipal hall.
During the Jan. 6 “consultation,” the surprised stakeholders, especially members of the Shipyard Association of Consolacion Cebu, asked from Mayor Alegado the following documents: 1) the proposal of La Consolacion and other attachments; 2) the proposed joint venture agreement of the Municipality with La Consolacion; 3) the Notice of Award and; 4) the proposed ordinance of the Municipality, which Mayor Alegado failed to produce.
The project, according to the source, will affect the ship repair area (baraderohan) in Barangay Tayud, some residents and vessels’ inbound and outbound routes from and to Cebu ports. The source said the Municipal Government withheld the issuance of all business permits to all business establishments operating in the area, including a ship repair facility pending the result of the consultation.
Based on the documents obtained by this columnist, the Shipyard Association is strongly opposing the multi-million project because of the following grounds:
1) The area to be reclaimed is an Anchorage Area, declared by the Cebu Port Authority; vessels are instructed to stand by and wait at the anchorage area while waiting for berthing space at Cebu Port;
2) The area is assigned as a shelter area during typhoons. Vessels seek shelter in this area since it is protected water; with the frequency of typhoons in the Philippines, most of which pass by Cebu, the vessels will lose their shelter area;
3) If our shipyard will be closed down, who will repair and maintain the ships based in Cebu and Northern Mindanao? Approximately 60 to 70 percent of the repair and maintenance of the vessels are being done in the shipyard in Tayud, Consolacion. Without repair and maintenance facilities, the safety of the ships without them will be compromised;
4) Not only the shipyard will be affected, but also the entire shipping industry in Visayas and Mindanao. Shipping is the economic driver because we are in the center of many islands and regular repair and maintenance of ships provided by our shipyards is integral to the shipping industry;
5) If reclamation will push through, the vessel channel will become narrower and, consequently, there will be increased and stronger current. The water area will be shaped like a funnel (presently, the current is now at six-seven knots). With a reclamation, a narrower channel and stronger current will then be dangerous for ships passing through the channel and increase the possibility that they may hit the bridge piles/foundation;
6) The project will also cause further siltation. The shipyards are constantly removing heavy siltation in the area. With the proposed reclamation, a very narrow waterway is allotted. This will cause siltation to the vessel’s main passage. There will be siltation problem in due time. Right now, the silt is spread all over a big area and once it is constricted, it will have a heavy siltation in the given canal;
7) Flood will happen in the interior areas since the waterway will be constricted. There is, in fact, flooding now even without the reclamation yet. When heavy rains or typhoons hit the area, there is flooding in the market close to the residential areas;
8) The reason the Department of Public Work and Highways (DPWH) built the bridge in Cansaga Bay because it is considered a waterway. Tide and floodwater will pass this waterway. With a reclamation, the waterway will be constricted and the floodwater will surely be impeded.
Well, what the local government of Consolacion is doing is only an initial stage for this multi-million project. Reclamation projects will take a tedious and long process under Administrative Order 2007-2, or the implementing rules and regulations of Executive Order 543 dated June 24, 2006, delegating to the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) the power to approve reclamation projects. During the time of former President Benigno Aquino III, he also signed Executive Order 146, “Delegating to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Board the power of the President to approve reclamation projects.” Under this EO, the role of PRA is to “continue to process, evaluate and recommend the approval of all proposed reclamation projects to the Neda Board.”
There are so many requirements needed before it can materialize like competitive bidding and an Environmental Compliance Certificate from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and many more. But the main question that Consolacion officials should answer: Is it necessary to come up with the kind of project? Does the town not have enough land area for business expansion and investment opportunity? And who are the incorporators of La Consolacion? Dili pud kaha ni ila ra? Just asking?