Diocese opposes Dumaguete reclamation plan

July 14, 2021 - 12:00 PM
A perspective of the 174-hectare reclamation project in Dumaguete City. Contributed photo to CBCP News

A Catholic diocese is opposing a 174-hectare reclamation project because of the environmental impact it could have in the central Philippine city of Dumaguete.

In an open letter, the diocese raised concern that the P23-billion project could harm the city’s remaining marine ecosystems.

Signed by Bishop Julito Cortes and other officials of the diocese, a copy of the letter was sent to the project’s developer E. M. Cuerpo, Inc. on Monday.

While they are not against economic, social and political development, they said that such a massive project “must consider the scientific and environmental implications, not to mention its impacts on the cultural and moral life of the people in the local community”.

The reclamation project will reportedly pave the way for the construction of a “Smart City”.

The church leaders have earlier made the same appeal to city Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo.

On March 24, the diocese organized a forum “against reclamation” and consulted experts on the effects of the project at the city’s historical boulevard.

Cortes has also asked for the tolling of bells of St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral at 3 p.m., praying the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy and Pope Francis’ “A Prayer for our Earth”.

Other sectors, including the academe, are also against the proposed project.

Among the first to publicly oppose the project were National Scientist Dr. Angel Alcala, Silliman University president Dr. Betty McCann, and former SU president Dr. Ben Malayang III, who is also an environmentalist.

In their position letter, they argued that the project will “destroy” and “bury” the few remaining marine ecosystems that support small-scale fishing in Dumaguete.

The proposed smart city island will include a coastal wastewater treatment facility, shoreline slope, wave protection, esplanade, a marina, a modern ferry port, and an open area for sports facilities, a hospital, and a city administration hub.

After numerous appeals from various sectors, the signing of the joint venture agreement between Remollo and the developer, scheduled on Monday, was postponed indefinitely.