News and UpdatesIn the NewsIpe asks: Why only Pantawan?

Ipe asks: Why only Pantawan?

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Dumaguete Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo on Wednesday highlighted the success of his Pantawan reclamation and shoreline protection project in protecting the houses and government offices in barangay Tinago from being battered by monsoon waves.

Keynoting the Local Climate Change Action Plan workshop at a resort in Dauin town, the Mayor said the Pantawan project was a proactive decision.

“Looking back at Supertyphoon Yolanda, the people in Leyte had no shoreline protection, the whole coastline was wiped out. We don’t want that to happen to us,” he said.

Critics and environment advocates have scored the Pantawan 2 extension project as illegal for lack of an area clearance and an Environmental Compliance Certificate from the Department of Environment & Natural Resources, as well as an application for reclamation from the Philippine Reclamation Authority.

The environmental groups Kahugpungan para sa Kinabuhi ug Kinaiyahan and the Friends of the Environment of Negros Oriental (FENOr), together with five coastal community members in barangay Tinago, have filed a verified Ombudsman complaint against Remollo and seven current and former officials for violation of the anti-Grant and Corrupt Practices Act.

The Mayor said the DENR has been “poisoned by fake news and social media” that this 1.715 hectare reclamation is part of his 174-hectare Smart City project.

He said the Pantawan project fronting Bethel Guest House along Rizal Blvd. consists of 1.715 hectares. “When we started doing this with the beach volleyball area, the City government had a budget of only P17 million. It’s a shoreline protection with reclamation.”

He said that in addition to the 200 households in Tinago, there are seven government offices located along the Tinago coastline that are always hit by the waves: the Tinago Day Care Health Center, the Sectoral Desk Office, the City Social Welfare & Development Office, the Blind Masseurs Center, the PWD Building, the Press Club Building, and the Child Protection Unit.

One building, for the Sectoral Desk Office, has been abandoned because of wave damage, he added.

He lamented that applying for an ECC  for his local reclamation project would take a “long process”.

The Mayor bemoaned the fact that if the Department of Public Works & Highways would expand a road, like the three-hectare reclamation in the town of San Jose, no ECC was required. “That’s also a reclamation project but that was given a Certificate of Non-Coverage (CNC)!” He said no one complained.

“The road extending the Flores Avenue from Piapi to Bantayan — which was all seafront — was also reclamation but was given a CNC. Where are the environmentalists?” he asked.

The road projects of Flores Ave. Extension in barangay Bantayan, and the coastal highway of La-laan in San Jose are Congressional  projects of the 2nd District.

The Mayor cited another reclamation in Dumaguete that was given a Certificate of No-Coverage: the 3,000-square-meter project to protect the Calindagan Barangay Hall and the Bell Church which is funded by the Congressman’s pork barrel.

He noted  that while all these projects serve a common purpose, the City’s reclamation is bigger than the shoreline protection activity in barangay Calindagan.

Another difference, the Mayor pointed out, is that his bigger reclamation project being implemented by his local administration is spending only P40 million for it; while the smaller Calindagan project being built through DPWH is P50 million.

“Enough is enough! We have to tell our people that if we continue to be like this [being critical] , we will never improve,” the Mayor said.

He promised to relocate the squatters living in barangay Tinago to the Plains View relocation site in barangay Banilad.

“They [the squatters] had appropriated for themselves government land, and have not paid taxes on anything. And they even rented them out!,” he said.

The Mayor also announced that he was able to secure almost P1 billion in funding for the Banica River protection but which hit a snag because some riverbank dwellers refuse to leave the area.

He reminded the members of the City Disaster Council: “All these criticisms from media and environmentalists will make you shirk [from doing your job], if you are onion-skinned, but we should stand our ground because many people will suffer [from the consequences if we don’t do our job].” (AP)

 

 

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