The people of Dumaguete City have spoken: They want their coastlines preserved against reclamation, the group Pinoy Aksyon for Governance and the Environment said Friday.
In a statement, the think-tank said the majority win of Team Kasaligan, which ran against the Lupad slate of re-elected Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo, in the 10-seat City Council of Dumaguete, “is a statement against the 174-hectare Smart City reclamation project being pushed by the mayor.”
The reclamation project, which became a major election issue has been opposed by local scientists and civil society.
With the local legislature seeing seven out of ten members opposed to Remollo emerging victorious in the May 9 elections, this meant the re-elected mayor may not easily get the nod of the City Council in pushing projects, especially those that entails entering into contracts.
The Local Government Code requires local chief executives to get authority from the local legislature to approve and sign contracts.
“Pinoy Aksyon lauds Team Kasaligan for running on the platform of protecting the environment and heritage of Dumaguete City. Proceeding with the project, which would destroy the city’s beautiful coastline, would bury four marine reserves, aggravating the fragile coastal and marine ecosystems of the city and adjoining areas,” it said.
“We trust the Team Kasaligan to fulfill its political promise and in the same breadth enjoin the public to remain vigilant as pushers of the project are still lurking,” said Pinoy Aksyon convenor and chairperson BenCy G. Ellorin.
Ellorin said Team Kasaligan (“trustworthy” in Bisaya) are “heroes” for the environment.
The P23-billion project was proposed to the city government in 2019 and is being undertaken by EM Cuerpo, a local construction firm.
The city government, following a resolution by the incumbent city council giving Remollo the authority to undertake the deal, moved to accept the unsolicited proposal and drafted a joint venture agreement with the construction firm in 2021.
But critics have questioned EM Cuerpo’s financial capacity to complete the project, as its net assets only amounted to P1.4 billion as of 2020.
The entry of the Guandong-based Poly Changda Overseas Engineering Co. as a subcontractor of EM Cuerco further raised suspicions that the reclamation project is funded by capital from China.
Poly Changda Overseas is run by the Chinese government.
“We hope the new administration stops the anti-Filipino policy of ‘Chinazation’ or the unbridled entry of Chinese capital, products, businesses, and labor into the country sidelining Filipinos,” Ellorin said.