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San Fernando Mayor issues CDO against port project in Sangat

By: Futch Anthony Inso May 28,2018 - 11:31 PM

San Fernando Mayor Lakambini “Neneth” Reluya has issued on Monday (May 29) a cease and desist order against the construction of an international port in Barangay Sangat of San Fernando, a southern Cebu town.

Despite this, Ruben Feliciano, proponent of the project and president of First Sangat SF International Port Corp., said that he would continue his operation and would not recognize the order.

In a press briefing on Monday, Reluya warned Feliciano that if he would fail to secure all the mandatory requirements for him to continue to undertake his project and if he would continue to operate illegally, she would file the necessary actions against him with the existing penal and administrative laws.

“Pursuant to the power vested in me by law, I, Lakambini G. Reluya, local chief executive of the municipality of San Fernando, Cebu, do hereby order Ruben O. Feliciano, president of Sangat Bay Development Corp. and First Sangat SF International Port Corp. or any of its, agents and/or associates, to Cease and desist from undertaking any activity that would develop/construct the private port or a port with reclamation component in Barangay Sangat,” Reluya said while reading the order.

Allegations denied

The mayor also strongly denied the allegation that the proponent had given her P5 million for the project to start, and that three weeks before the Barangay and Sangguning Kabataan (SK) election, she asked for P10 million to the proponent for the advancement of her political allies.

“Mr. Feliciano, put substance to your allegations. All lies. You fabricate stories,” she said, adding that she had only met Feliciano twice in her entire life.

Reluya said that she stopped the operation of the project, due to unresolved complaints from the fisherfolk in the area, non-compliance of necessary requirements and some legal issues over the project.

Last Feb. 27, 2018, Reluya has issued Executive Order No. 5, which put on hold the port project, but Feliciano has continued to defy the order.

ECC questioned

The mayor also questioned why Feliciano was able to get and Environment Compliance Certificate (ECC) first from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB)-7, even if the project was not endorsed yet and approved in the barangay and municipal council.

“The proponent was able to secure ECC in 2016, but the municipal and barangay have issued the resolution approving the project in the later part of 2017,” she said.

The municipal council approved the project on May 22, 2017 through Resolution No. 152 and on June 19, 2017, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed by Mayor Reluya and Sangat Bay Development Corp., represented by the proponent Feliciano.

Aside from Feliciano, Lawyer Felizardo Tiu was also a proponent of the project.

MOA terminated

On May 30, 2017, Tiu sends a notice to Reluya, informing her about the termination of MOA between the proponent and Melekon Constructions Inc, which created Sanga Bay Development Corp.

Reluya said that base on the notice, Tiu terminated the MOA after he found out that he was not included as an incorporator of Sangat Bay based on its Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) registration.

But Melekon continued its operation by drilling in the seawater of Barangay Sangat, which had prompted Feliciano and Tiu to file a complaint against them in the Cebu Port Authority (CPA) early this year.

Fishers complaint

On Jan. 24, 2018, Reluya received a complaint from the members of North Sangat Bantay Dagat Fishermen Association (NSBDFA), represented by Engineer Fernando Alcuizar.

NSBDFA has expressed their opposition on the project, for it has affected their livelihood as fishermen.

The same complaint was also filed and endorsed to Reluya from the Presidential Complaint Center.

But on March 2, 2018, the proponents have conducted a groundbreaking activity of the port project, under the name of First Sangat SF International Port Corp. and on May 15, they’ve already started the back-filling operations in the coastal area despite the issuance of the executive order of Mayor Reluya.

She said that the resolution that authorized the proponents in the construction of an international port was intended for Sangat Bay and not to First Sangat.

“As distinguished by a vested right, a municipal permit is merely a license or a privilege. It is also not a property right so it can be validly withdrawn when dictated by public interest or public welfare, and in this case, the claims of the fishermen of barangay Sangat,” she said.

“Furthermore, it is well settled that police power is superior to contractual rights and stipulations. Hence, the non-impairment clause in the constitution, which protects contractual rights and obligations, gives way to a valid exercise of police power,” she added.

Last April 2, 2018, the mayor also received a letter from the Philippine Reclamation Authority emphasizing that the clearances/endorsement that the proponents have acquired from other government agencies is not equivalent to the “reclamation permit” and “notice to proceed” required by PRA prior to the conduct of actual reclamation works.

More raps eyed

Aside from issuing a Cease and Desist Order, Reluya also plans to file criminal and administrative charges against Feliciano.

But Feliciano refused to acknowledge the mayor’s order.

“I will not stop, I will not recognize (the mayor’s order), over my dead body. Never in my life, will I recognize that,” Feliciano said.

On Friday, Feliciano earlier filed a complaint against Reluya for harassment, grave abuse of authority, conduct unbecoming of a public official and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act before the Office of the Ombudsman.

Feliciano also said that if they had not complied the requirements, then why had the mayor not stopped Melekon, when they operated even without their consent.

He also denied that they already started reclaiming the area, because they were only constructing pathways for mobility of their equipment.

In the project, around 23 hectares of seawater would be reclaimed and the project would cost up to P12 billion.

Feliciano also said that they had secured first an ECC before the endorsement and approval of the barangay and municipal council, because this was the policy that was implemented in the previous administration of San Fernando.

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