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'Assault on Cebu’s mountains’

Cebu Capitol, nat’l govt slammed over bulldozing Balamban’s mountains

By: By Morexette Marie B. Erram - CDN Digital Multi-Media Reporter | March 31,2024 - 12:19 PM

Bulldozed mountains in Balamban

Photo courtesy of Wiley Yray

CEBU CITY, Philippines – A coalition of non-profit organizations here urged the Malacañan to investigate redevelopment works in the mountains of Balamban town, particularly on reports that it will be the site of the future Capitol building.

The group Save Cebu Movement called out the Provincial Government and several national government agencies for allowing portions of the hinterlands in Balamban to be bulldozed.

“We, the Save Cebu Movement, strongly condemn the continued assault on Cebu’s mountains by the construction of the ‘soon-to-rise Provincial Capitol’ by the Provincial Government of Cebu and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), including the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),” they said.

They were referring to ongoing site development works in Barangay Cambuhawe, a mountain village in the municipality, photos of which went viral online recently.

In addition, Save Cebu Movement also called the Ombudsman, the state’s anti-graft investigating body, and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), to probe the matter immediately.

Their statement came days after aerial photos showing white patches and trees being cleared on the mountains in Balamban town, which borders Cebu City in the west.

Initially reported as the site of the new Capitol, the Provincial Government denied these claims, with Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia saying it is a road project by the DPWH in Central Visayas (DPWH-7).

CDN Digital has reached out to Garcia for her comments on the latest comments from the Save Cebu Movement.

The Save Cebu Movement is composed of various cause-oriented groups.

These are the 5pcs Daily Habit/Basura Run/Tumbler of Hope; Clean, Healthy, and Green Environment for Naga (CHanGE Naga); Legal Alternatives for Women (LAW) Center, Inc.; Philippine Earth Justice Center, Inc. (PEJC); Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) in the Visayas; Pusyon Kinaiyahan; Regional Center of Expertise (RCE-Cebu); Sectoral Transparency Alliance on Natural Resource Governance in Cebu (STANCe); Youth Action for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP Visayas); and the University of Southern Philippines Foundation (USPF) Community Extension Services.


In their statement, Save Cebu Movement warned stakeholders of possible legal and disastrous consequences should redevelopment in Balamban’s mountains continue.

“The wanton disregard of all of these is apparent in the acts and omissions of those who allowed the bulldozing and cementing of our mountains to happen,” they said.

Aside from the Capitol and DPWH-7, the organization also took a jab at the DENR as well as its counterparts in the provincial and municipal levels.

They questioned whether the project underwent “strict and rigorous” review from environmental regulators before actual bulldozing and redevelopment took place.

Save Cebu Movement wanted to know if the project possessed an Environment Compliance Certificate (ECC) and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

“So we ask, how could this project have passed strict scrutiny of these criteria? Each one who allowed, and failed to act to disallow, this project to happen is responsible!” they said.

The mountains in Barangay Cambuhawe in Balamban served as buffer zones to the Central Cebu Protected Landscape, according to the group.

Not only do they protect critical watersheds but also from the impact of super typhoons, landslides, and other natural disasters.

“These mountains also protect us from the ravages of supertyphoons as we now find ourselves in the pathway of these extreme weather conditions that can be a disaster for all Cebuanos as we’ve learned from Super Typhoon Odette and the recent deadly landslides in Maco, Davao de Oro,” the group explained.

In the meantime, Save Cebu Movement reminded local officials to ensure progress without damaging the environment.

“We call and demand for justice to the mountains and the natural resources that were wantonly destroyed by these dastardly acts. Those responsible must be held accountable and answer to criminal, civil and administrative liabilities,” they added.

READ MORE: New Capitol in Balamban sparks debate: Netizens raise environmental, accessibility concerns

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TAGS: Balamban, Capitol, Cebu Provincial Government, DENR, DPWH, environment

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