IN HIS State of the Town Address last Oct. 25, 2021, Consolacion Mayor Joannes “Joyjoy” Alegado said: “We are not asking them (opposition groups) to leave Consolacion right immediately, they still have time to look for the proper places and have the transition properly done and we are just thankful and grateful to them for their presence for the last 30 to 40 years or so but then we could not stop progress and development as well.”
Alegado was referring to those groups that opposed the proposed multi-billion reclamation project in barangay Tayud dubbed as Seafront City, a 235.8-hectare mixed use project, in consortium with a private developer, La Consolacion Seafront Development Corporation (LCSDC).
This is indirectly saying, “Hey, if you don’t want my programs and projects, you can leave the town anytime.” For me, this statement is an act of arrogance in the highest degree. Does Alegado think he is the franchise holder or owner of Consolacion? That he is indispensable and will stay forever as chief executive? I would like to remind the mayor that everything we hold and possess in this world—our power, our profession, our money and properties—is just temporary. Please read the story of Alexander the Great and you will know that everything in this life is temporary.
Alegado should listen to the concerns of the affected sectors. It’s not only the shipyard operators that will be affected by his proposed ambitious project but also the ordinary people whose livelihood will be displaced. Is he not concerned with the plight of his constituents? Where are his heart and conscience?
Government is not only for those who are in power. The late US President Abraham Lincoln said: “Government of the people, for the people and by the people, shall not perish from the earth.” This means that democracy can be exercised directly by the people, in large societies, it is by the people through their elected agents. Does Alegado have that dictatorial tendency that he will no longer listen to the concerns and demands of his constituents? What’s the sin of the people of Consolacion that they elected a mayor who is arrogant and has a dictatorial attitude? He even cut the process short by not conducting a thorough consultation among the stakeholders and without approval from the Regional Development Council 7 and the National Economic Development Authority Board.
Alegado also acted as a psychic like Nostradamus. Why? Because he foresees a bright future for Consolacion with his proposed reclamation project. He said, “We want another face of Consolacion. We want more. If there are jobs right now at the shipyards, this could be doubled or even tripled or even more than when the reclamation comes, so that’s for sure, it will create more jobs not just the ship building and ship repair but would ripple for a lot of job opportunities.”
It is not a sin to dream. But is he sure about his forecast? Lapu-Lapu City and Cordova town have their own reclamation projects. If I were an investor, I would rather invest in these two areas because they’re near and accessible to the seaport of Cebu, with the operation of the third bridge and the Mactan airport. Or I will invest at the South Road Properties in Cebu City because it is more strategically located and within the urban areas. But look at the SRP until this time, it is more of a “white elephant.” I challenge Alegado to study the SRP’s situation and find out why there are only a few investors there before he pursues his own reclamation project.
We don’t even know if the developer, LCSDC, can finish the multi-billion project with a capitalization of only P10 million. This developer is totally unknown and has no track record. I don’t know why Alegado partnered with this company when there are more known developers around with unquestioned track record. I challenge Alegado to name a reclamation project accomplished by LCSDC. It doesn’t even have a website. A “big corporation” cannot even develop its own website?
And what if, God forbid, his reclamation project will bring disasters to the area rather than progress and development? Environmental experts have already warned about the possible ill effects of reclamation projects. A government review in 1996 stated that land reclamation would result in the “large displacement of marine sediments and the development of mud-waves beneath the reclamation fill.” This would disrupt the ocean’s ecosystem, lead to soil liquefaction, and pollute the water. Land reclamation is associated with some dangers such as flood and soil liquefaction.
Land reclamation can be achieved with a number of different methods. The simplest method involves simply filling the area with large amounts of heavy rock and/or cement, then filling with clay and dirt until the desired height is reached. The process called “infilling” and the material used to fill the space is commonly called “infill.” Are the benefits, progress and development brought by the reclamation worth more compared to the disadvantages and disasters it may bring especially, if it involves human lives? Experts say any economic benefit from the project will pale in comparison to the “monumental ecological disaster” it poses. Think of this, Mayor Joyjoy.
After asking the intervention of President Rodrigo Duterte to stop the reclamation project, the affected sectors are now asking the intervention of Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma. I am also appealing to his Eminence to listen to the concern of the affected sectors, like what he did in Dumaguete City’s proposed reclamation project. Some sectors, including the Diocese of Dumaguete, opposed the proposed reclamation project envisioned by the Dumaguete local government unit, in consortium with a local private developer, E.M Cuerpo.
Through the intercession of the Diocese of Dumaguete, Palma threw his support and issued a strongly worded statement against the project. Now, the same controversy has cropped up in Palma’s own backyard. I think it is just fair and proper for Palma to support the concern of his own faithful here. Ug dili madutlan si Mayor Alegado sa legal action ug public opinion, basin lamdagan siya sa Espiritu Santo pinaagi sa bendisyon ni Bishop Palma.