The Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) plans to take legal action against the city government for allegedly failing to stop a pier project on the coast of Brgy. Luzviminda that has no reclamation permit and environmental compliance certificate (ECC).
ELAC executive director Atty. Grizelda Mayo-Anda said Thursday that if they do not hold a dialogue with city government next week, their move will be to send a “notice to sue” for its lack of success to cease the reclamation project by private entity William Tan Enterprises, Inc. (WTEI).
Anda said the city government has not also responded to their April 10, 2019, position letter explaining why the pier reclamation project should be stopped in Luzviminda.
“As of today, June 13, the city government has not yet responded to the letter… kasi position letter ‘yon so we will monitor what they will do in the next few days. Then from there, we will have to look into other options,” she said.
ELAC is calling to stop the project for a barge docking facility to prevent the destruction of the diverse community of marine animals that depend on seagrasses for shelter and food in the barangay.
In a press conference on Monday, April 10, Anda said the project has no reclamation permit from the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and ECC from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Despite their position letter, she said the city government has not taken any concrete action to close the project in Luzviminda and is, in fact, even considering site co-development with WTEI.
Anda said ELAC recognizes the city government’s need for a pier facility to receive aggregates and cement supplies from other areas in the country considering their shortage, but it should also take cognizance of what the marine ecosystem will lose because of the destruction the project is causing.
“Kami, we’re hoping that the city government will take cognizance of the issues. Now, we will send a letter probably within the week or next week and we will see if they will respond,” she said.
Anda pointed out that their demand is not to allow the reclamation project and for the city government to get a scientific opinion to determine what adverse effect the pier project will cause.
She said they are also demanding the city government to review the certificate of non-coverage (CNC) it issued to WTEI.
“The issuance of the CNC is inherently problematic because the proposed cement terminal and warehouse complex are covered by the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) system and classified as Category B or projects that are not categorized as Environmentally Critical Projects (ECPs), but which may cause negative environmental impacts because they are located in Environmentally Critical Areas (ECA),” ELAC’s position paper stated.
On May 6, 2017, ELAC already sent a letter to the DENR-CENRO, City ENRO and Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) requesting to cause the immediate stoppage of the ongoing reclamation and construction in the Luzviminda area.
She said ELAC sent a follow-up letter to this on May 10, 2018, to the Vice Mayor’s Office and the members of the City Council for an “immediate and multi-partite investigation” but after the initial stage of discussing it, nothing else followed.
Anda said the city government needs to remind itself about Section 16 of Republic Act 10654 or the amended Philippine Fisheries Code, which specifically enjoins it to enforce fishery laws, rules, and regulations and fisheries ordinances in municipal waters.
She said it should also be aware that one of its mandates is “shared ecological responsibility” under Section 13 of Republic Act 7160 or the Philippine Local Government Code before it allows any project in the coastal areas of the city.