DENR told: ‘Check environmental compliance of Toledo reclamation first’
Congressman Garcia seeks clarification on Toledo project: Is this new DENR policy?
CEBU CITY, Philippines — While the planned reclamation project in Toledo City could spur economic development in the midwest, third district Representative Pablo John Garcia called on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources or DENR to check on the project’s compliance with existing environmental laws first before giving it the go signal.
Garcia made the statement following a report from the city’s Public Information Office that Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu had already given his nod to the project during his visit to the proposed location last August 21, 2020.
The proposed 12-hectare reclamation project is planned at the coasts off Barangay Poblacion, directly facing the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape (TSPS).
TSPS is the body of water between the islands of Cebu and Negros that is renowned for its rich biodiversity.
Oceana, an environmental protection group, earlier warned against the “destructiveness” of the project towards the ecology.
Garcia, in a statement on Thursday, has said he is under the impression that the development is not allowed under the law being that Tañon Strait is a protected seascape under the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (E-NIPAS) Act of 2018 and other relevant laws.
“Sige ta’g panakop sa mga gagmay’ng mangingisda sa Tañon Strait kay makadaut sa environment, unya karon, pwede ra diay gub-on ug tambakan ang Tañon Strait pinaagi sa reclamation? Is there a different law for the poor and a different one for rich developers?” Garcia asked.
(We apprehend the small fishermen in Tañon Strait because their activities may harm the environment, and yet we are going to destroy and fill Tañon Strait with materials to reclaim it?)
Large scale fishing is not allowed in protected seascapes such as Tañon Strait.
Toledo City, a third income class city in the midwest of Cebu province, is part of the third district which Garcia represents in Congress.
Garcia said he had no intention of blocking the reclamation project in the City, but he wanted it clarified if allowing such projects was the new policy of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources or DENR “regarding Tañon Strait and its status as a protected seascape.”
“The clarification would be helpful to other towns along the Tañon Strait that are thinking of their own reclamation projects to expand their land area,” Garcia said./dbs
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