A group of Coron residents held a rally Wednesday to protest quarrying and reclamation activities in town they claim were being carried out without due regard to their impact on the environment.
The group, called Sagip Coron, urged the municipal government to call for a public dialogue to hear their complaints about the environmental impacts of ongoing reclamation and quarrying projects.
Bob Magallanes, one of the group’s organizers, claimed that the quarrying and reclamation projects being undertaken by the local government did not go through proper public consultation as mandated by law.
“These projects have not gone through a public consultation prior to development. We believe that this dialogue will help the people know the truth behind these projects and understand the issues well. We requested the dialogue to be set at the Coron Coliseum on March 9, 2022 at 9:00 a.m.,” Magallanes told Palawan News.
Among the projects being criticized by the group is the Coron Bay Development Project, a tourism development project of the local government that involves reclamation of a shoreline portion of Coron Bay.
Magallanes decried the LGU’s alleged refusal to conduct a dialogue about these projects, claiming that their petition was merely referred to the Sangguniang Bayan’s Committee on Natural Resources and Environmental Protection.
“Pending the conduct of a dialogue, we decided to pursue a unity walk, to start the information-education efforts. Prior to the event, we have distributed 5,000 copies of educational leaflets to inform the people about the adverse effects of reclamation and quarrying as these are environmentally critical projects,” he said.
Demonstrators comprised by a religious group, indigenous peoples, farmers, fishermen, youth, and other concerned residents, walked through the town and sang environment-themed songs such as “Masdan Mo ang Kapaligiran” and “Gising na Kaibigan” by Asin.
A special mass was also held at the town’s reclamation area. The site is composed of barangays Poblacion 2, 3, and 5, which has an average depth of 5-7 meters from the seafloor, according to the town’s tourism master plan.
“The current situation is quite alarming because mangrove forests, sea grasses and coral reefs were buried, mountains were destroyed to fill the sea and more to be damaged when the projects proceed. The people in the direct impact areas are worried, too, about their future as these projects cloud their minds with uncertainty,” Magallanes stated.
In 2021, residents complained to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) the quarrying activities linked to the Coron Bay Development Project of the municipal government. It’s quarry operator claimed their quarrying activities had proper permits issued by the DENR.
Also in June last year, the DENR stopped a quarrying activity that was providing materials to a supposed bridge construction project connecting Coron and Culion but had no prior permits.