Osmeña ‘abandons’ Toledo reclamation project
TOLEDO City Mayor John Henry “Sonny” Osmeña yesterday said he has “abandoned” his plan to reclaim 11 hectares of foreshore lands within the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape.
“It is not going to happen. I have totally abandoned the project. We have no reclamation projects here. I do not know what you people are fussing about,” he told Cebu Daily News over the phone yesterday.
The mixed-use complex he was planning to develop on reclaimed property to spur Toledo’s economic growth will be moved inland, he reiterated.
The Toledo city government is now scouting for land that may be acquired for only P1,000 per square meter, he said.
Osmeña made the statement in response to CDN’s query on whether he has received a copy of the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) letter asking him to comply with the requirements for a reclamation project.
The mayor said he has not received such a letter.
“It’s redundant. I know I didn’t apply for a permit. I have not received a letter telling me that the reclamation has no permit,” he said. In a letter dated June 1, PRA general manager and chief executive officer Peter Anthony Abaya said there has neither been an application to reclaim filed with the office nor an approval for a reclamation project in Toledo City.
The project has been met with objections from environmental groups like Oceana, an international organization focused on marine conservation.
Osmeña had said that with the opposition the project has been getting, he would be forced to cancel the project or move it inland. Yesterday, he decided on the latter. “I have better things to do than to fight with all of you people. If you don’t want progress, I’m sorry for the people of Toledo,” he said.
Environment advocates criticized the mayor last month for issuing a service contract to a private contractor for the initial phase of the project without securing the necessary permits.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources had pointed out that the project does not have an area clearance, among others. An area clearance, which would have to be signed by the DENR Secretary, indicates that the project site is “free and open for the grant of a reclamation application.”
Osmeña proposed to reclaim 11 hectares of allegedly polluted foreshore land between the Toledo public market and the Cebu Energy Development Corp. (CEDC) power plant. Osmeña envisioned a mixed-use development with a shopping mall, commercial spaces, condotel, a promenade, and sports and cultural center. The mayor had said it would be cheaper to reclaim than acquire property inland, which averages P5,000 per square meter. The proposed reclamation project had an estimated cost of P186.4 million, or less than P2,000 per square meter.
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