By JOE MANCERA
The coming public hearing on the 24-hectare reclamation project of the provincial government is not consistent with the provisions of law, notably the basic requirement of the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) before any project, that may have serious impact on the environment, should be started. Yet first and foremost, the public hearing or consultation should be done to consult the people directly and adversely affected before any project is implemented. In the case of the Combado reclamation the subsistence fishermen, the poor fisherfolk were already dislocated by the old 4-hectare reclaimed area in the same barangay.
The public should know that any public consultation must be done before any project is implemented, NOT AFTER. That is why the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) in Quezon City notified the Southern Leyte LGU that the 24-hectare Combado reclamation violated the provisions of the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System (PEISS).
Thus, was also issued EMB Cease and Desist Order (CDO) for the immediate stoppage of the project. The apparent activity in the area is part of the mitigating measure ordered by the CDO.
Yet here is the big BUT! Why is there no public hearing on the now on-going reclamation in barangay Lib-og? EMB – Quezon City knows that the target area for reclamation is actually 100-hectares. They are fast tracking even railroading it, without any document complied with, like the ECC, clearance from the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), permit from the Lib-og barangay Fish and Aquatic Resources Management Council (FARMC), clearances from the BFAR and other concerned government agencies. May we ask: are the barangay FARMCs not being formally organized in the city’s coastal areas? The FARMCs are mandated by Executive Order 240?
The Lib-og reclamation must be more than 70 hectares and the ongoing activity there is aimed to connect with the Combado reclaimed area.
BARUG Maasin hopes that the EMB should also cite the other environmental laws being violated, such as: The NIPAS law, The Philippine Fisheries Code, the Integrated Coastal Management (EO533) other legal issuances on environmental protection, conservation and management.
With the Maasin reclamation project the fishermen and fisherfolk are deprived of their lifetime marine food resources. Unlike other places in the Philippines where their coral reefs and marine treasures are made as rich sources of money from tourism; and the people are happy.