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Citing the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Executive Order No. 74, which prescribes the necessary requirements for the approval of reclamation projects and reclamation components of development/infrastructure projects, Regional Director Nerie Bueno of DPWH-8, said in his Memorandum of August 31, 2021 to DPWH-SLDEO District Engineer Manolo Rojas that the Coastal Bypass Road project in Maasin City “should not be funded and implemented without the required ECC, Area Clearance and the approval of the PRA.

According to the memorandum, E.O.74 provides that two (2) of the mandatory requirements are the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) and the Area Clearance which shall be issued by the DENR subject to the endorsement of the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA).

It must be recalled here that the said mandatory requirements were not complied with by the project proponents. Only a Certificate of Non-Coverage (CNC), which is not the appropriate document, was displayed near the project site when it started in barangay Mambajao sometime in 2017. Thus, the PRA issued a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) to stop the project; also because the Mambajao portion of the coastal road violated the 20-meter width allowed by PRA for coastal road. In its subsequent letter, replying to a query from a concerned Maasinhon, the PRA made it clear that the CDO is still in effect.
The barangay Mantahan portion of the coastal road worth P98 million had not been allocated funds from the General Appropriations Act; its billboard clearly showed that its Source of Fund was left blank. That being so, that portion should not have been pursued. Yet they are still there cramming to connect two concrete ends, with a bridge? It must be illegal to pursue a government project without government funding? Who shall the government pay for unfunded projects?

It should also be noted here that the adverse impact of the coastal road from Mambajo to Mantahan, plus the transfer of violence of stormy waves of storm Maring from the Combado causeway, had created havoc on the residential houses and properties of residents in the low-level barangays of Asuncion, Isagani, Ibarra, Maria Clara and Pasay. This is precisely why the ECC is mandatory as it also mandated the conduct of the Environmental Impact Assesment (EIA) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
The existing causeway in barangay Combado worsened the violent impact of stormy waves from storm Maring which also left that unwanted siltation at the mouth of Canturing River. This is clearly seen from the top of Canturing bridge.
The provisions of the CNC for the Combado causeway had been violated. The CNC allows only 1,000 square meters of filling materials and mandates the compliance of permits/clearances from other concerned government agencies, like the BFAR, FARMCs, DENR.

Unfortunately, existing laws and other legal issuances geared to protect, conserve and manage the natural environment had been defied and violated by proponents of government projects certain to destroy marine food resources. Such proponents have no regard for the frequently threatened, harassed subsistence fishermen and poor fisherfolk. The glaring irony is that such people are granted preferential rights to the coastal food resources by the Philippine Constitution. Yet again, they had been harassed and arrested by Maasin’s abusive Bantay Dagat personnel. Time must be near when heaven shall impose justice in behalf of Maasin’s poor fishermen, fisherfolk and their children.


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