EMB to Consolacion recla opposers: Craft position paper, provide data

OPPONENTS of the proposed 235.8-hectare reclamation project in Barangay Tayud, Consolacion town, northern Cebu were given at least seven days to craft a position paper and provide evidence to show that the project could be harmful to the surrounding environment.Officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Central Visayas (DENR 7) made the decision following a tense public hearing between those supporting and opposing the project at the Consolacion Municipal Hall on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.The position paper that the opposers will present will be used as part of evidence by the DENR, particularly the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), whether to grant an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) to the proponents of the reclamation project or not.The public hearing that took place at the town hall became tense as groups opposing the project, including shipyard owners in Barangay Tayud, and the officials of the Consolacion Municipal Government traded allegations against one another during the proceedings.Opponents of the project initially questioned the environmental impact statement (EIS) submitted by the proponent to the DENR 7 concerning the proposed reclamation project, claiming that the EIS failed to discuss the possible impacts of the project if it is pushed through. The EIS is one of the requirements needed in order for the proponent to secure an ECC for the project.Tensions further flared up during the hearing when officials of Tayud’s shipyard association asked the DENR 7 to postpone the hearing, which was later disregarded.Lawyer Therese Amor, who represents Tayud’s shipyard association, questioned the procedural lapses of the project, including the issuance of a letter of no objection (Lono) from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Central Visayas even though some neighboring local government units (LGUs) have not been consulted with on the matter.Amor added that the issuance of a Lono is irrelevant without the proponent’s consultation of the LGUs, stressing that the project would also affect reclamation sites in the cities of Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue.She also stated that the project could affect the lives of the shipyard’s workers.Lawyer Liza Osorio, who represents marine conservationist group Oceana Philippines, said aside from the project not being thoroughly studied, it could greatly affect the environment in a negative way.Osorio said that according to some studies conducted by several experts, the project could be a huge contributor to the increasing sea level rise in Cebu.She also questioned the Municipal Government’s assurance of giving livelihood programs to those people who will be severely affected by the project.For his part, outgoing Consolacion Mayor Joannes “Joyjoy” Alegado reiterated his support for the project as it will greatly improve the lives of many residents.Alegado also claimed that opponents of the project had falsified allegations that the project could affect the marine diversity in Barangay Tayud, claiming that marine life within the project site had been proclaimed “dead,” based on the claims of fisherfolk living in the area.Alegado also assured residents that will be affected by the reclamation project that they will be socially relocated and they will be given livelihood funds to establish small-scale businesses. They will also receive skills training.He also reiterated his claim that most of the shipyards in the Tayud area have expired leasing permits, stressing that only two have active permits and assured that these two could continue with their operations.