Punta Engaño residents divided on M/V Diamond Highway demolition

CEBU. M/V Diamond Highway, which has been stranded in Punta Engaño, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.
CEBU. M/V Diamond Highway, which has been stranded in Punta Engaño, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu. Photo from Lapu-Lapu City PIO

RESIDENTS from Barangay Punta Engaño in Lapu-Lapu City have mixed opinions on the resumption of the ship-clearing operation of mv Diamond Highway even after conducting a public hearing.

Some residents agreed for the resumption of the clearing operation provided that the ship-breaking company of mv Diamond Highway, the Pilipinas Precious Metals Resources Inc. (PPMRI), will follow the conditions set by the Lapu-Lapu City Hall, while some have completely opposed the continuation of works.

A public hearing attended by more than 90 residents from Sitio Lupa, Colo, Mangal, and Proper-Jansen was conducted last May 29, 2024, at the Punta Engaño gymnasium.

Barangay Councilor Mark Jonas Estardo, in an interview on Tuesday, June 4, said residents did not share the same sentiments of the resumption of the ship-breaking operations.

“Naay pabor, naay dili. Ang gi-raise nga concerns only are about the assurance regarding sa problema about health,” said Estardo.

A cease and desist order was issued by Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong’’ Chan last Jan. 31 due to residents complaining of skin rashes and fiber-like particles in their clothing. The residents blame the ship’s demolition.

Climaco Sumalinog, a resident from Sitio Lupa, told SunStar Cebu on Tuesday that he agreed for the resumption of the operation so the ship will be removed completely.

Sumalinog was among the residents who experienced skin rashes and having fiber-like particles in their clothing when the ship-clearing operation was still ongoing.

Another resident from Sitio Lupa Eva Nora Dungog approved the resumption of the operations, provided that the government should consider the health and safety risks.

Dungog’s two children had experienced coughing before the operation was suspended in January.

“Ang mga bata kampat na kaayu sila tungod sa abog, nya gipang-ubo gyud sila ato. Hasta uban bata diri gipang-ubo. Pero ang amoa pud ato ang kagid, katol kaayu na murag manusok,” said Dungog.

But some residents have strongly opposed the continuation of the operation, saying they are not convinced that they would no longer get sick should the ship-clearing resume.

In a press release sent to SunStar Cebu on Tuesday, residents who are victims of respiratory illness due to fiber dust emitted by the ship-breaking operation of mv Diamond Highway still oppose the resumption of the ship-cutting works in the area.

Earlier in May, some residents also filed a complaint against some barangay officials before the Office of the Ombudsman, accusing them for failing to enforce the mayor’s CDO and protect them from the harmful effects of the operations.

Conditions

Estardo said there are requirements set for the private firm to continue its ship-breaking operations.

City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) officer-in-charge Emeterio Bong­hanoy, in an interview on Tuesday, said his office required the private firm to clear out discovered crystallized gel particles in the area, double and install higher nets to shield nearby houses from any fiber dust emitted from the ship-clearing, no oil pollution within the area, and to clear any debris of the ship scattered nearby.


Bonghanoy said the City Legal Office will also verify if the PPRMI has complied with requirements set by the Cenro since they will be the ones to endorse to the mayor’s office whether or not to lift the CDO.

He said this is one of the requirements before the CDO will be lifted. (DPC)

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