Civil society groups, environmentalists call for review on all recla projects

A GROUP composed of civil society organizations and environment advocates wants the national government to review 758 reclamation projects in the country, including the 145 being implemented in Cebu.

Members of the Save Cebu Movement gathered at the University of the Philippines Cebu campus on Saturday morning, Nov. 5, 2022.

They want to protect the country’s marine resources and those whose livelihoods rely on the sea.

“It is time to listen to science and the voices on the ground. The ocean is our food source, comfort, culture, inspiration and home,” the group said in a joint statement its members drafted during the activity.

The group identified the Province of Cebu as “ground zero,” as it is home to massive reclamation projects in various stages of development.

Data from the Philippine Reclamation Authority, as of Sept. 16, showed that of the 145 coastal development projects in Cebu, only 10 have been approved. The rest are either being implemented without special registration, for titling or for forfeiture.

Lawyer Rose Liza Osorio, the legal and policy director of the environment group Oceana, said these are both private and public projects that affect about 15,0000 hectares of land in Cebu.

Fourteen of the public projects are in the cities of Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Naga, Talisay and the municipalities of Consolacion, Cordova and Minglanilla.

Osorio said their goal is to promote public awareness of the hazards of the continuous reclamation projects, which cause irreversible environmental degradation.

Some environmental impacts they discussed were projects destroying fish habitats, particularly their spawning grounds, and inflicting harm on the coastal resources found in Cebu’s municipal waters, which they said support the livelihood of several marginal fisherfolk.

“We aim that many people will know. So, we launched this movement and hope for the future. We can build momentum to make this movement successful,” she said.

When asked if they plan to pursue legal measures regarding the matter, Osorio said they will need to gather evidence first, but she did not dismiss the fact that it might soon happen. (HIC)