Sibonga council OKs cement plant project

Sibonga council OKs cement plant project
SunStar Sibonga

THE proposed cement manufacturing plant, pier and quarry site in Sibonga, southeastern Cebu now has a go-signal from the local government unit.

On Tuesday, July 2, 2024, the Sibonga Municipal Council, with six affirmative and only four negative votes, passed on the third and final reading, a resolution that would allow Bayan Cement Producers (Bayan Cement) to proceed with its proposed projects.

However, residents and environmental groups are disheartened with the development.

“It would never be a green Sibonga,” Gina Patalinghug, chairperson of the Unifying Sectoral Responses on Environmental Protocols in Sibonga, told SunStar Cebu in an interview on Tuesday.

Patalinghug said councilors Rey Apuda, Caroline Bacaltos, Danny Sarnillo, Fortunato Diez, Linn Apuda, and Andrew Lopez voted in favor of the resolution, entitled “A resolution favorably endorsing, approving and allowing the construction, development, and operation of Bayan Cement Producers Corp. (Bayan Cement) and its allied private individuals and/or entities located in the Barangays of Sabang, Candaguit and Mangyan, Municipality of Sibonga, Province of Cebu.”

These councilors were the same councilors who voted to pass the resolution during its second reading on Tuesday, June 26.

Apuda, chairman of the committee on environment and committee on laws, introduced the resolution to the council.

The three councilors who voted against the projects were Noel Ponce, Joejie Chan and Ramon Paul Ponce Pananganan.

One councilor, Joel Ponce, was absent during the voting.

Resistance

Pananganan, in a privilege speech, said development should meet the needs of the present generation “without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

He claimed that the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) of Bayan Cement allegedly does not include the construction of a wharf; he added that the Bayan Cement is using a 15-year-old ECC.

“The supplemental committee report by the Committee On Environment and Committee On Laws, what was attached was the 2007 ECC,” he said.

“The majority of the members of this SB (Sangguniang Bayan) interposed that public hearings were already conducted in the three barangays, Sabang, Candaguit and Mangyan. Why is the public hearing limited only to these three barangays?” he added, noting that the Bayan Cement applied for six hectares of development for a cement plant area; of 371, 251 hectares for mining/quarrying area, and 2.8 hectares for a pier or wharf.

Pananganan claimed that the council “heavily depended on the answers of the Bayan Cement personnel and not on the negative sides.”

Patalinghug, however, said they will continue opposing the project, as they have started gathering signatures of residents who are against the project.

“Nayukbo pero (We were astonished, but) it does not mean nga (that) it the end of it,” she said.

Patalinghug, a dentist by profession, said over 15 from multi-sectoral groups composed of farmers, fisherfolk, and environmental groups in the town who are against the proposed projects, attended the session on Tuesday.

In a previous interview with Mark Anthony Genayas, mechanical engineer of Bayan Cement, the project’s cost is estimated to be from P10 billion to P15 billion.

Bayan Cement representatives also assured the residents that 80 to 90 percent of their employees for the proposed projects would come from the residents “as long as they are qualified.” / CDF

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