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Cebu News

Palace acts on calls vs Consolacion reclamation

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol - The Freeman
Palace acts on calls vs Consolacion reclamation
Lawyer Joseph John Literal, assistant general manager of Reclamation and Regulation Office of the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), said they were ordered by Malacañang to start conducting the verification process.

CEBU, Philippines —  The Office of the President has taken cognizance of the calls from various groups to look into the Seafront City Reclamation Project in Barangay Tayud, Consolacion.

Lawyer Joseph John Literal, assistant general manager of Reclamation and Regulation Office of the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), said they were ordered by Malacañang to start conducting the verification process.

“Actually sa case po na pinag-uusapan natin meron na pong umabot sa amin, copy furnished kami. May nag reklamo na po kay Presidente. So, kami naman po sa PRA since we are under the Office of the President, nirerefer din po sa amin yan,” Literal said during an online multi-sectorial forum on reclamation projects in Minglanilla and Consolacion organized by Oceana and the Philippine Earth Justice Center (PEJC) last Monday.

As part of the verification process, Literal said they will be asking the project proponents to comment on the concerns raised by the affected fisherfolk after Dr. Filipina Sotto, a scientist and project leader of the FBS-Environment and Community Research And Development Services, said not much emphasis has been given as to how these projects will affect the fisherfolk and the other concerned sectors.

“Ultimately ang concerns ng fisherman itatanong din po namin yan sa proponents,” said Literal.

Consolacion Mayor Joannes Alegado was invited but did not attend the forum. Instead, he sent Mark Eran as his representative.

Eran asked for a copy of the presentations of the participants so he can also share them with their group. Aside from the PRA, concerns on the reclamation project related to the environment have also been forwarded to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“In compliance with due process, when we receive these documents, we also furnish that to the DENR because they are, under the bureaucracy, they are the experts in environment laws and then sa LGU kung sino ang affected party. Kailangan po kasi namin marinig lahat ng side. We will act accordingly but we also have a process. Otherwise kami naman ang ma expose for not following the process,” Literal said.

 Engineer Mary Ann Bueno, of the Environment Impact Assessment Section of the Environment Management Bureau in Central Visayas, said sectors that will be affected by the Tayud reclamation project can always “contest” its implementation in the absence of proper consultation by its proponents.

The conduct of consultations and public hearings are required under public scoping.

“If ever important stakeholders were not invited, the fisherfolk, shipyard owners, they can contest to really require the proponent to conduct again public scoping,” said Bueno.

The conduct of public scoping is an early stage in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Process wherein the project proponent provides an overview of the project, presents issues and concerns, and other relevant information on the scope of the project.

During public scoping, all interested parties, organizations, and agencies are encouraged to provide inputs and comments on the project in compliance with Presidential Decree No. 1586, “Establishing an Environmental Impact Statement System, Including Other Environmental Management Related Measures and for Other Purposes.”

Bueno added that public scoping is needed before the proponents can proceed with the conduct of technical scoping that is done to ensure that the proposed project will not have a negative impact on the environment as well as identify mitigating measures. EIA is needed prior to the issuance of an Environment Compliance Certificate.

In the case of the Consolacion reclamation project, Bueno said the proponents – the Municipality of Consolacion and La Consolacion Seafront Development Corporation (LCSDC)- already forwarded to their central office their application for an ECC and they were advised in January 2021 to conduct public scoping. — FPL (FREEMAN)

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