The Negros Oriental Provincial Council (Sangguniang Panlalawigan) passed their third and last reading of an ordinance declaring the province’s marine protected areas free from any reclamation project. The ordinance is awaiting the approval or veto from the Provincial Governor, Roel Ragay Degamo.
Provincial Action for Protection
In the proposed ordinance, 46 Marine Protected Areas in the province will be known as “reclamation-free zone”. These MPAs cover those in Amlan, Ayungon, Bacong, Bais City, Basay, Bayawan City, Bindoy, Dauin, Guihulngan City, La Libertad, Manjuyod, San Jose, Siaton, Sibulan, Tanjay City, Tayasan, and Zamboanguita. The passed ordinance is authored and sponsored by the following Board Members: Jose “Petit” Baldado, Estanislao Alviola, Jack Raymond, Valente Yap, and Mariant Escaño Villegas.
Vice Governor Mark Macias expressed his concerns regarding the effect of the reclamation project beyond the borders of Dumaguete City.
Actually, when you talk about the marine protected areas within Dumaguete City, that is connected to the waters of Bacong and Dauin, including Apo [Island]. They are all interconnected. In fact, they are even closer than we think to each other,” Macias said in a mix of English and Cebuano.
Dumaguete City’s neighboring local government units have also registered their concerns regarding the high-risk P23-billion reclamation project, citing the possible irreversible impacts on their interconnected marine ecosystems and communities. Apo Island, one of the most popular tourist attractions and diving spots in the province also passed a resolution opposing the project. Parts of the resolution reads:
The massive reclamation project of Dumaguete City and the construction of two islands and any dredging activities thereof will release huge amounts of sediment plumes, construction debris, and waste to other areas beyond the reclamation site”
The accumulation of this debris “will likely result in severe injuries and death to coral species and associated organisms,” given the distance between Apo Island to Dumaguete and the hydrology patterns of the Bohol Sea, the council said.
#NoTo174Dumaguete Reclamation Project
Dumaguete’s City Council (Sangguniang Panglungson) held several sessions in regard to the 174-hectare Reclamation Project, also known as “Smart City”. The reclamation project will be affecting 4 major Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), in the barangays of Bantayan, Lo-oc, Mangnao, and Banilad. Dumaguete City has historically committed to protecting these MPAs for over 20 years. Protecting its coral reefs, seagrass beds, and soft-sediment ecosystems through the legal establishment of the MPAs.