News and UpdatesIn the NewsCity officials sued over reclamation

City officials sued over reclamation

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Environment groups and private individuals are asking the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate officials of the previous administration of the City of Dumaguete over the continued reclamation activities along the Rizal Boulevard.

Named respondents in the complaint are Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo, former City Vice-Mayor Karissa Tolentino-Maxino,  former City Councilors Lilani Ramon, Michael Bandal, Edgar Lentorio, Manuel Patrimonio, and incumbent City Councilors Renz Macion who represents the Sangguniang Kabataan, and Dionie Amores who represents the Association of Barangay Councils.

The eight City officials are being accused of committing serious violations of Sec. 3 (e) and (g) of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, for causing undue injury to the government, and for entering, on behalf of the government, into contracts or transactions manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government.

The Complainants are members of the group called the Kahugpongan para sa Kinabuhi og Kinaiyahan, and the Friends of the Environment of Negros Oriental.

In their complaint, the environment groups said the continued reclamation work along the Boulevard is being carried out without any public notice nor approval from the Philippine Reclamation Authority.

The complainants said the reclamation work continues despite a Cease and Desist Order issued by the PRA on March 18, 2019.

They said that while the DENR issued an Environmental Compliance Certificate for the project on June 18, 2019, it was also suspended by the Environmental Management Bureau for continuing without a Notice to Proceed.

The Complainants also noted a number of defects in the City government’s project: lack of transparency; lack of public hearings and stakeholder consultations; misleading information given to the public regarding the Cease and Desist Order from the PRA, and the incorrect latitude and longitude of the project in the ECC pointing to the sea off the coast of Dauin; the still- unmet conditions under the ECC; absence of consideration on its potential impacts on the fisherfolks; likely inability of the reclaimed area, as designed, to resist wave overtopping and flooding due to rising sea levels in the coming decades; and potential environmental and social impacts of the reclamation project.

The Complainants also said that even until this time, no formal and definite move and response have been given to address the requests made, except for the calling of a joint hearing on Aug. 19, 2019 of the City Council Committees on Appropriations, Public Works, and the Environment.

They said that on the contrary, the Respondent Councilors continued to appropriate funds for the project in question, even until a few days before the expiration of their terms of office.

They said the City never responded to written requests in 2021 for copies of the permits and documents for the reclamation of “Pantawan 2” and its extension.  However, they noted, reclamation continued through 2022.

They said they had asked the DENR Regional Director to provide them with documents showing the legality of the reclamation project. The DENR replied  that no application was made by the City, and neither did the DENR issue any Area Clearance.

With this information, the Complainants are asking the Ombudsman to file administrative and criminal charges against the City officials. (AP)

 

 

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