Fishers oppose Cebu reclamation

By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Vince Cinches

CEBU CITY, Philippines- Fisherfolk activists belonging to the militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and its provincial chapter Pamana-Sugbo today declared war against the planned reclamation of 132 hectares of coastal waters in Cordova, Cebu.

In a joint press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap and Pamana-Sugbo chairperson Victor Lapaz assailed Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia for pursuing the project which they said was grossly detrimental to the livelihood rights of small fishermen and highly inimical to marine environment.

“Governor Garcia wants to earn more money for the powerful elite of the province through reclamation at the expense of small fisherfolk and the people’s environment. The marginalized people are being sacrificed at the altar of Cebu’s bogus blueprint for development,” the two Pamalakaya leaders noted.

Citing a recent study conducted by scientists from the UP Marine Science Institute (UP MSI) on the effects of the P1-billion reclamation project in mainland Aklan’s jump-off point to Boracay Island, Hicap and Lapaz said that the project could alter the ecological balance and marine life in Cordova and Cebu coastal waters.

“Despite the warning made by UP scientists on the impact of reclamation, the Gov. Garcia and Mayor Sitoy are still adamant to pursue this project.They don’t care about its negative effects on the livelihood and other social rights of the fishing communities and its direct assault to the fragile marine environment of Cordova and the whole island province,” they added.

Reports said phase 1 of the the 132-hectare reclamation project of Cordova town in Mactan Island is ongoing. The town’s mayor Adelino Sitoy is optimistic this project would increase the economic activity of the town once development begins.

Mayor Sitoy said Phase 1 would cover 10 hectares and cost about P80 million. The blessing of the site, which will be attended by gov. Garcia on August 14. The local government said it would aggressively look for commercial investments once the Phase I is completed.

The Provincial Planning and Development Office had amended its existing Environmental Certificate Clearance (ECC) on that area. Instead of having 10-hectare reclamation, they will extend it to 20 hectares. Mayor Sitoy claimed proponents are still processing the necessary permits and clearance for the other areas of the 132 hectares to be reclaimed.

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