DUMAGUETE CITY – Dumaguete City Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo on Wednesday said national agencies such as the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have the “final say” in the proposed PHP23.35-billion reclamation project fronting the coastline here.
Remollo, in a press briefing at a local hotel, explained the processes which the “unsolicited project” proposed by a Quezon City-based firm has to go through, noting that it would take years before this could be realized if approved by the PRA and other agencies.
The mayor and majority of the city councilors who approved a resolution granting him authority to enter into a joint venture agreement (JVA) with the proponent drew flak from the public including residents, environmental advocacy groups, church leaders, and members of the academe.
He confirmed that the scheduled signing of the JVA between the city, represented by him, and the investor, EM Cuerpo, Inc. last Monday did not materialize because he asked the city council to have it amended into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with suggested inclusions as well as changes in some provisions.
Remollo’s letter to the city council said he wanted to allow the people to have a better understanding of the reclamation project, which would be implemented at no cost to the city under a public-private partnership (PPP).
In the meantime, he appealed to his constituents to listen to his plan and give his administration a chance to submit to the national government the proposal on the said project dubbed “Smart City”.
It covers 174 hectares of reclaimed land and involves the building of two islands about 30 meters away from the city’s coastline.
Remollo promised that “dili ta padayon kung walay blessing (we will not push ahead without the blessing) of concerned agencies.”
The project aims to uplift the lives of the people in Dumaguete, create more jobs, bring more investors in, and hopefully upgrade its status from currently being a third class city, he said.
He also thanked the different opposition groups for their inputs and criticisms while appealing to them to not turn down something that has not yet even been finalized.
Various sectors, including National Scientist of the Philippines, Dr. Angel Alcala, had issued separate statements of opposition to the project in the past days, with a common call for public consultation.
However, Remollo said there is no need for that as yet. “Right now, there is nothing that I can present to the public and in fact, we don’t even have a design yet,” he said in mixed English and Cebuano dialect.