Consolacion recla project to go forward; critics react

·4 min read

THE incoming mayor of Consolacion town in northern Cebu plans to push through with the controversial 235.8-hectare reclamation project in Barangay Tayud once she assumes office on June 30, 2022, raising a howl from fisherfolk and a warning from an environmental group.

Mayor-elect Teresa “Nene” Alegado told reporters on Monday, June 6, 2022, that she will proceed with the construction of the reclamation project amid objections from environmental experts, fisherfolk and shipping firms operating in the area.

Alegado, who is currently vice mayor, said they had already submitted the needed requirements to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in 2021 and the project is already undergoing a verification process.

She expressed hope that the DENR would approve the project during her term as mayor.

The approval is needed so the construction at the site situated in Barangay Tayud can proceed.

The seafront project, envisioned to become a commercial hub, was proposed by Alegado in 2019. She believes the project will help a lot of people and ease the traffic congestion going to northern Cebu.

But critcs have said the project will affect the shipyard (baraderohan) in Barangay Tayud, some residents, as well as vessel routes to and from Cebu ports.

Experts also warned that the project could create irreversible damage to marine biodiversity.

Despite the controversy, Alegado believes the project would be beneficial to the next generation, and even called it a legacy she can leave for the townsfolk.

“Many will oppose, and that’s normal. Once the project is finished and people start to enjoy it, will they remember me? It doesn’t matter as long as I can give a legacy to my people in Consolacion,” she said.

Alegado is also eyeing to improve the town’s infrastructure, health facilities and food safety, and to strengthen climate adaptation.

Other projects she plans to implement during her term are the relocation of the Consolacion Municipal Jail to a 1.4-hectare lot in Barangay Panas, the execution of the Cebu International Port project, and the establishment of a new double-A slaughterhouse.

Alegado will have her oath-taking as mayor on June 25 at the Consolacion Municipal Covered Court.

This would be her fourth term as town mayor and her seventh term as public servant, as she has also served as vice mayor and councilor of Consolacion.

Opinions

Fisherfolk associations in Consolacion who will be affected by the reclamation project expressed differing opinions on Alegado’s plan to go ahead with the project.

Annabel Pomento, spokesperson of the Barangay Tayud Fisherfolk Organization, told SunStar Cebu that her group will not object to the town’s plan to proceed with the reclamation project as long as the incoming mayor will implement the promises she set for them, including a suitable relocation site for affected fisherfolk.

But for members of the Samahan ng Mangingisda sa Pilipinas (Pangisda-Pilipinas), the project remains a threat to the livelihood of fisherfolk, especially those living in the coastlines of Consolacion.

“The reclamation project would close the living opportunities of small-time fishermen in Tayud and also to its neighboring areas in Metro Cebu such as Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue City, and the town of Liloan. So it has a huge impact on the environment,” Jovanni Polestico, Pangisda-Pilipinas Cebu coordinator, told SunStar Cebu.

Polestico added that fisherfolk are set to make their case during an online public hearing with the DENR, the Environmental Management Bureau and the Municipal Government of Consolacion on the proposed reclamation project.

Separately, lawyer Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, Oceana Philippines country leader, reminded local government units (LGUs) like Consolacion that “the protection of municipal waters anchored on ecosystem-based management is lodged upon the coastal cities and municipalities and LGUs have the responsibility of protecting the environment and the health and environmental rights of the people.”

“Allowing the destruction of fisheries and fragile marine habitats such as mangroves through the dumping and filling of the coasts and our seas and displacement of livelihoods is an abdication of that unequivocal duty. The DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) has precisely issued Memo Circular 2022-018 to make sure that LGUs comply fully with the rigid standards and safeguards that our laws provide to protect our already degraded natural life support system and make them more resilient amid the climate crisis we are facing. Dili ni tiawtiaw nga responsibilidad (This responsibility is not a joke),” Ramos added.

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