The P10 billion project is a joint venture between the Mandaue City Government and private firm Technotrix Integrated Services Corp. (TISC) to be undertaken at no expense to the City. It will stand along the shoreline of Mandaue City fronting Barangays Centro, Subangdaku and Looc.
In a public hearing initiated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) Central Office, opposers questioned if the project had enough feasibility study and documents.
The hearing, held Wednesday, May 10, 2023, at the Mandaue City Sports and Cultural Complex, was attended by representatives of several government agencies and local government units, including the cities of Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue.
Dr. Filipina Sotto, a marine biologist, stressed how a reclamation project always costs permanent destruction to the environment.
Sotto stressed that many marine life forms would be affected by the project, which will later on lead to a decrease in livelihood among fishermen living in the area.
Lawyers from the Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (Accralaw), who represented the proponent of a waterfront township project being constructed in the North Reclamation Area in Mandaue City, also questioned the project’s approved Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) permit, stressing that only 95 hectares of the Mactan Channel was declared by the City and not 115 hectares.
The lawyers asked for the project’s proper documents to justify its records, including asking for a clear copy of their Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
EIA is a planning and management tool that will help the government, the proponent, the affected communities and other decision makers assess whether the project’s benefits will outweigh the negative consequences or risks to the environment. It is one of the requirements for granting an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) to the proponents to push through with the reclamation project.
They also asked the DENR to review the proponents’ documents and consider holding another public hearing.
Lieutenant Commander Christian Nuevarez, commander of the Naval Forces Central in Lapu-Lapu City, said if the project goes through, the navigation of their ships would be difficult.
No permit yet
On Friday, however, Mandaue City Administrator James Jamaal Calipayan clarified that no permit has been issued by the DENR or the PRA yet.
“Everything is still being applied for,” he told SunStar Cebu.
He also said the 95 hectares was just an approximation based on technical drawings and was not final.
“It was submitted to the PRA in the letter of intent and the proposed MOU (memorandum of understanding). The MOU with PRA was an understanding that Mandaue intends to reclaim approximately 95 hectares in the given area and that the proponents will comply with all the requirements of government,” he told SunStar Cebu.
As for the 115 hectares, he said it was an “amended approximate area after the city approved the proposal.”
However, Calipayan stressed that there could still be changes in the size of the area “based on the DENR area clearance or Namria (National Mapping and Resource Information Authority) approval or ECC” or even up until the PRA grants the notice to proceed after all requirements have been met.
The public hearing was among the requirements of the DENR-EMB for the proponents’ ECC application.
No effect, no life
During the public hearing Wednesday, Edgardo Alabastro, one of the consultants of TISC, said they expected the concerns and respected them.
Alabastro explained that the project would not affect the environment based on the feasibility study they conducted and that they have mitigation measures.
He added that based on their study, the area has zero marine life and no fisherfolk are living there.
“Kung wala nang lupa ang Mandaue, saan na kukunin ang lupa? Saan kayo magbibigay ng employment?” Alabastro said.
(If Mandaue has no more land, where will you get land and provide employment?)
Mandaue’s land area is 25.18 square kilometers (2,518 hectares), according to PhilAtlas. So a 115-hectare reclamation would increase its size by 4.6 percent.
At the hearing, Calipayan said the reclamation project will host an estate that will have commercial, residential, industrial, institutional and tourism components.
Calipayan said the project is part of Mandaue’s vision to become a resilient city driven by manufacturing-based, retail and service micro, small and medium enterprises.
He said the project is expected to be finished by 2028.
The DENR-EMB Central Office Review Committee said it will review the documents, but it had yet to say if there will be another public hearing. (WITH CTL)