Mandaue lawyer calls case against contractor clearing mangrove area as harassment

By: Wenilyn Sabalo - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | June 29,2023 - 02:03 PM

This is the area of the mangroves that is being cleared by a backhoe. | Contributed photo

This is the area of the mangroves that is being cleared by a backhoe. | Contributed photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — A lawyer of Mandaue City government has called the filing of a complaint for the alleged cutting of mangroves against a contractor in Plaridel Interior in Barangay Paknaan this city as a form of harassment.

“It’s basically a harassment case,” said Lawyer Julius Cesar Entise of the Mandaue City Assessor’s Office told CDN Digital.

Complaint against contractor

Entise was referring to the complaint filed by Maria Priscilla Melendres, a resident of La Guardia in Barangay Lahug, Cebu City, against BNR Construction and Development Corp.

Melendres sued BNR Construction and Development Corp. for violation of Sections 77 and 78 of Presidential Decree No. 705, as amended for illegal cutting and destruction of forestland.

Melendres filed the complaint before the Office of the City Prosecutor in Mandaue City last May 31, 2023.

Harassment case

Entise called it a harassment case because the decision to proceed with the restoration of the natural waterways, which were blocked by an illegal reclamation, was agreed upon by the Mandaue City government, the Department of Enviroment and Natural Resources Office and the City’s Environmental and Natural Resources Office.

“Kanang mangroves niturok na sila as a result of the siltation. Supposedly, that area was a fish pond. It was illegally reclaimed,” he said.

(The mangroves there grew as a result of siltation. Supposedly that area was a fish pond. It was illegally reclaimed.)

How mangroves grew in the area

 “As a result of which, every time there is flooding there is also siltation. Silt from the soil used to reclaim the area would go to the waterway,” he further said.

“Kanang lapoka, naturally, being adjacent to the mangrove forest, mospread g’yud na ngadto ang mangrove, mutubo g’yud na ngadto,” Entise said.

(That muddied area, naturally, it being adjacent to the mangrove forest, the mangrove would spread there and grow there.)

“That’s why I showed to them the picture of what it used to be before the illegal reclamation and explained to them that one reason for severe flooding in the area of Paknaan is that the natural waterway was blocked by the illegal reclamation,” he said.

He said it was also agreed upon that the mangroves that grew inside what used to be a natural waterway would be transferred to another site, just within the vicinity of the area.

Only contractor not the principal

Another reason for Lawyer Entise to call it a harassment case was that the case was filed only against the contractor and not the principal or the one hiring the contractor.

“BNR is just a contractor, basically an agent. If she wants to file a case, she should file a case not just against the agent, but as well as the principal. The DENR is undertaking that excavation by reason of a contract with the City of Mandaue,” he said.

Mangroves destroyed

Melendres, on the other hand, in her affidavit, said that she decided to sue BNR after witnessing the mangroves allegedly being destroyed last November 17, 2022.

 She claimed that the mangroves were situated not that far from the land that she owned there.

“I actually saw three backhoes being operated by several individuals. The excavation activities were being conducted in the mangrove area resulting in the uprooting and destruction of numerous number of mangrove trees,” she said.

She maintained that the operators of the backhoe were hired by BNR Construction, including one of its foremen.

These BNR employees allegedly were hired by the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Mandaue City government.

Without a permit

Melendres claimed that the illegal excavation or dredging activities conducted from November 2022 until April 2023 by the BNR Construction and Development Corp was allegedly “without any permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which resulted in the destruction of many mangrove trees on a property classified as timberland or forestland.” 

CDN Digital sought the comment of BNR Construction, but the latter has yet to give its side of the issue as of this writing.


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TAGS: complaint, Mandaue City, mangroves

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