Dumaguete residents say no to reclamation

The people of Dumaguete, a peaceful coastal community, are relentlessly saying no to a controversial reclamation project proposed in the city.

The 174-hectare reclamation project dubbed “Smart City” is envisioned to be a mixed-use  sprawling district with residential, commercial, leisure and business hubs.

But local communities including the Diocese of Dumaguete have opposed the project, saying that reclamation would greatly affect the rich marine environment of the city and neighboring areas, such as world-renowned diving spot Apo Island.

And while the P23-billion controversial reclamation project has been put on hold, the local community remains wary after Dumaguete City mayor Felipe Remollo said the project may still be pursued “at the proper time.”

In a September 8 letter to the City Council, Remollo said he has decided to withdraw his request for authority to sign a memorandum of understanding between the local government and E.M. Cuerpo Inc., proponent of the Smart City Project.

The residents said it was a curious case why  reclamation works even started when there was no approval from the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) for the project.

The PRA is the agency under the Office of the President that approves reclamation projects in the country. It said Dumaguete does not have a pending application for the 174-hectare Smart City reclamation project.

In his letter, Remollo also said he decided to defer the signing and the serving of the Notice of Award to the project proponent until after the PRA has reviewed and passed upon the entire bidding process conducted by the PPP Selection Process.

At the same time, he said, “This is without prejudice, however, to pursue the City’s application for pertinent permits with the PRA and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources relative to the Smart City Project at the proper time.”

Photos show initial recent works for the Dumaguete reclamation project even without PRA permit. Photos courtesy of concerned Dumaguete residents.

The City Council had already revoked the authority granted to Remollo to enter into and sign the MOU with E.M. Cuerpo Inc. as proponent of the project.

“To date, this agency (PRA), has not received any application for the proposed 174-hectare Smart City Reclamation Project in Dumaguete City,” the PRA said in a September 7 letter to Dumaguete City vice mayor Karissa Tolentino-Maximo.