The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to deny an environmental permit the Dumaguete reclamation project over its “environmental and socio-economic impacts.”
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA said that the DENR should “seriously take into account” the sentiments of scientists, environmentalists, and communities who opposed the 174-hectare reclamation project.
Dumaguete City-based sectors expressed opposition to the projects, citing potential devastating impacts of the reclamation project to the marine environment, coastal communities, and local fish supply.
“It should be no-brainer for the DENR to reject this reclamation project by which has been lamented by scientists and communities and environmentally-destructive,” PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson Fernando Hicap said.
“For starters, the DENR should issue a public statement opposing the reclamation and commit itself that no environmental permit would ever be issued to this project,” Hicap added.
Silliman University (SU) launched an online petition opposing the Dumaguete Project.
The university said it opposed building island structures stretching across Dumaguete’s shorelines from Bantayan to Banilad and the City’s signing a Joint Venture Agreement on the project.
“We oppose, unless and until a public consultation on its technical, ecological, social, and economic merits, and its potential cultural and financial costs, risks, and consequences to Dumaguete residents shall have been done,” SU said.
It also urged its students to “get informed” of the project and to form their views of it.
Devastating environmental, social implications
Kabataan Para sa Karapatan – Negros Oriental argued that the project would destroy three of Dumaguete City’s Marine Protected Areas in Barangays Banilad, Looc, and Bantayan.
“This would have a great impact and further the decline of our local biodiversity and delicate ecosystems that many communities in the city rely on for much of our daily needs. It also has the potential to alter the way in which our wastewater flows leading to the pollution of multiple municipal waters,” the group said.
“The altering of the coastline by the first reclamation has already led to increased flooding impacts in coastal communities such as Barangay Tinago, many residents of which rely on fishing as their source of income and sustenance,” it added.
The group said local fishermen also noticed “a decline in catch” since the beginning of the project.
“The government leaders must instead focus on making Dumaguete City sustainable, climate-resilient, and more responsive to citizens’ input, one that truly addresses the basic needs and well-being of its citizens.”
The 23-billion reclamation project, dubbed “Smart City” island, is envisioned to house condominiums, malls, esplanades, and business hubs “while supporting 5G Internet connection” and modern ferry boat trips.