THE Cebu Port Authority (CPA) ordered a Manila-based construction firm to stop building a private port in San Fernando town.

This after the CPA found out that Melekon Contractors Inc. (MCI) started building the port in Barangay Sangat last year allegedly without securing a permit to develop and construct one.

In an interview, CPA General Manager Angelo Verdan said the reclamation and construction activities were illegal. Based on their initial investigation, a Filipino group and a foreign one struck a partnership to pursue the project.

However, the foreign team continued to work on the project without authority after their Filipino partners withdrew from it. Verdan declined to name the parties.

A SunStar Cebu team that visited the site, however, found out that MCI’s partner, First Sangat SF International Port Corp., had filed the complaint against MCI. First Sangat claimed the other party had reneged on their memorandum of agreement and started development even though they still lacked some requirements.

While they are willing to comply with CPA’s order, MCI officials questioned First Sangat’s allegations against them.

In his order, Verdan told Teodoro Genaro Reyes, MCI president, to cease working on the 23-hectare private port being constructed in Barangay Sangat because they lacked a permit to develop it.

Ruben Feliciano, First Sangat’s president, said he, lawyer Felizardo Tiu and MCI initially agreed last year to proceed with the project as long as the requirements were in place.

But Feliciano said that even if they had yet to secure an area clearance from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and a notice to proceed from the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), MCI proceeded with developing the area.

Feliciano said he was upset with MCI because they had a standing agreement with the fishing communities that their project would not hamper their livelihood. They also promised the fishing communities that 50 percent of their manpower would be hired from those living near the project site.

First Sangat terminated its agreement with MCI last Oct. 30 and filed a complaint before the CPA.

Port Police Insp. Vincent Castrodes told reporters yesterday that they initially tried to serve the cease-and-desist order against MCI last Jan. 25 but representatives of the firm refused to accept it.

What contractor says

Castrodes, upon orders from Verdan, went with his personnel to San Fernando to ensure that the CDO is implemented by MCI.

If MCI refuses to comply with the order, Castrodes said, they will recommend that CPA’s legal division take action against the firm.

In a separate interview, lawyer Alexander Patac of MCI said they plan to appeal the CPA’s cease-and-desist order within this week.

Patac also denied First Sangat’s claim that they started development without securing the needed permits.

“We already have a notice to proceed and an ECC (environmental compliance certificate) from the Environmental Management Bureau. We are acting with legal basis,” Patac told reporters yesterday.

Patac also questioned First Sangat’s move to terminate their legal agreement when it has not been agreed upon by both parties and had yet to be nullified in court.

Based on their agreement, he said, First Sangat was supposed to secure the documentary requirements for the project while MCI would provide financial and operational backing.

He also questioned Verdan’s claim that MCI is being financially backed by a foreign national. While he admits that they’ve hired Taiwanese nationals to make a layout of the project, Patac denied that foreigners are behind their financial resources.

“I think he (Verdan) is being misled,” Patac said.

Patac added that if needed, Melekon Contractors will seek the court’s intervention to settle the matter. (With EOB)