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Opinion

Fisherfolks and protesters: No to Minglanilla reclamation!

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero Ballescas - The Freeman

Last Tuesday, at about 3 in the afternoon, an urgent appeal for help appeared online:

“Pwd magpa cover ninyo? Naay ground breaking ron diri sa Brgy Calajoan Minglanilla, sa reclamation project. Mag rally ang mga tao diri s sea side dapit ug fisher folks. Pls pray for us. Luoy kaayo mga fisher folks diri.”

The urgent message further shared that the groundbreaking event for the Minglanilla Reclamation Project was unannounced and that the fisherfolks to be affected were also not previously consulted at all about the reclamation project.

Next came photos shared by quick responding youth eco-advocates: “Look, Mangingisda sa Calajoan, Minglanilla nag protesta sa Ming-Mori groundbreaking ceremony kabahin sa proposed nga reclamation project.”

A video of that afternoon’s protest was next shared and aired where the protesters voiced their objections to this Minglanilla Reclamation Project.

Fisherfolks asked why they were not consulted at all about this reclamation project. They also asked if the reclamation project considered the plight, the livelihood of the fisherfolks, their households and children.

The protesting fisherfolks shared that even the farmers in upland areas will be affected when the soil of their lands will be extracted to be used for this reclamation project. They issued the concern that the Naga landslide that buried many could result because of this reclamation project.

The protesters asked: who did the local government consult about this reclamation project? Why were they not at all consulted by the officials of Minglanilla and Cebu Province?

In a statement shared in FB that same afternoon, the reclamation project developer, “CLI (Cebu Landmasters, Inc.) and its subsidiary Ming-Mori Development Corp., reported the October 26th groundbreaking ceremony for a 100-hectare Minglanilla reclamation project (estimated to cost P20 billion) and scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2022 and completed by 2025.

Their statement noted that CLI, which owns 80% of Ming-Mori, “plans to develop the reclaimed area into the Minglanilla Techno Business Park “and “is committed to the transformation of this area into a vibrant and sustainable waterfront community that will have wide-ranging benefits for Minglanilla and the southern part of Cebu."

About 700,000 square meters of the 100 hectares to be reclaimed “will be saleable and earmarked for light industrial, commercial, residential and institutional uses and the remaining 300,000 sq.m. reserved for roads and green and open spaces.”

With a Notice to Proceed which the project received from the Philippine Reclamation Authority announced early this month, CLI chairman/CEO Jose Soberano III “thanked the Municipality of Minglanilla and the government regulators for making this 7-year process a showcase of excellent compliance and good governance."

The protest vs and the inauguration of the Minglanilla reclamation project may already be in the news. Shall we expect more contesting messages and action from proponents and protesters related to this project?

Several questions come to mind about this Minglanilla reclamation project, as well as similar reclamation projects elsewhere in Cebu.

In the midst of the present, continuing pandemic, are reclamation projects the priority at this time? Should not funds, both private and public, be better earmarked to meet the urgent needs of the marginalized and vulnerable groups that include fisherfolks and farmers?

Should not the deepening poverty and widening hunger among our food producers be prioritized for now, both by public and private entities?

And with the coming 2022 elections, should not big-budget reclamation and other infrastructure projects be banned now to avoid any possibility of project funds from being diverted for election purposes?

Finally, amid accelerating global warming, are reclamation projects protective of our environment/planet and God’s creations- the sea, the marine resources, those whose livelihood and sustenance have, for decades, depended on the sea?

RECLAMATION

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