SECTORS affected by the proposed 235.8-hectare Seafront City reclamation project in Consolacion town, Cebu have turned to Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma for help.

In a letter dated November 3, 2021, residents, fisherfolks, motorcycle-for-hire drivers, vendors, and shipyard workers asked for an audience with Palma to seek his guidance.

They pointed out they already pleaded with local officials to stop the reclamation project because it would not only threatened their livelihood and their homes but also the environment.

“We are already poor but what little livelihood we have left is being threatened by the plan of the municipal government to reclaim 235.8 hectares and turn it into what they call as Seafront City,” they said.

“The project, which is the centerpiece of the Alegado administration, does not only threaten our livelihood but our homes as well,” they added.

But they claimed that their pleas were ignored by Consolacion municipal officials.

Mayor Johannes Alegado, in his State of the Town Address on October 25, vowed to focus the remaining eight months of his administration on the reclamation project.

His mother, Vice Mayor Teresita Alegado, who is running for mayor in 2022, also promised to continue the project, which will be done in partnership with a private consortium -- La Consolacion Seafront Development Corporation -- whose incorporators include Rep. Victor Yap of Tarlac and his brother, former San Jose mayor Jose Yap Jr.

“With no one else to turn to, we ask on bended knees for your help and guidance. We are like sheep in need of a shepherd. We pray that you grant us an audience and hear us out,” their letter reads.

They told Palma that the project would not only affect Tayud fishermen but also those coming from the nearby cities of Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue as well as Liloan town.

A study conducted by Dr. Filipina Sotto, project leader of FBS-Environment and Community Research and Development Services, showed that at least 500 fisherfolk from Consolacion, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu, and Liloan stood to lose their livelihood if the project pushed through.

The FBS is a Cebu-based think tank that focuses on environmental issues.

Contrary to the claims of Mayor Joannes Alegado that there were no longer fish in the proposed reclamation site due to the presence of the shipyards, the same study showed that the fishermen could catch at least seven kilos of fish per hour in the area.

“This is because of the presence of rich marine resources in the waters that the municipal government wants to convert into land,” they said.

Based on the study, the proposed reclamation site is home to 75 species of corals, 51 species of macro benthic invertebrates and 7 species of mangroves that are nursery grounds supporting the fishery in Cansaga Bay. (PR)