The provincial government of Palawan is not taking the shutdown of its prime project sitting down and is seeking reconsideration with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) cancellation of the environmental compliance certificates (ECC) of the Coron Bay Development Project.

Lawyer Christian Jay Cojamco, provincial information officer, admitted Wednesday that there had been non-compliance with the ECC’s requirement for a monitoring report, pointing out that there had been no proper transition of power when then-governor Jose Alvarez took the reigns from former governors Baham Mitra and Joel Reyes.

“The project started in 2007 by former governor Joel Reyes, who applied for the ECC for a three-hectare project.” In 2009, it got another ECC for 48 hectares. Unfortunately, there was no transition for the project, and only in 2018, when governor Jose Alvarez continued with the project,” Cojamco said.

Comparative study commissioned by Sagip Coron showed a significantly fewer number of fishes at the reclamation site. (Photo courtesy of Sagip Coron Palawan)

According to the ECC cancellation order issued by Joe Amie M. Salino, regional director of DENR-EMB MIMAROPA, on May 12, no monitoring reports were submitted to the environment department on the progress of the project.

Between 2012 and 2018, the project was halted due to “lack of funds”, and was only reinstated by Alvarez, who entered into a joint venture with developers for the construction of hotels, docking stations, and other tourism-related facilities in Coron town proper.

Cojamco also stressed that, contrary to the claim of Sagip Coron Palawan, a civic movement staunchly opposing the project, the reclaimed lands will be “turned green” and will match the island town’s iconic land and seascape.

The coral reefs in the reclamation area showed live coral cover at 50.8% (Good), dead corals with algae or DCA at 27%, Silt and sand at 10% and sponges at 6.3% high. (Photo courtesy of Sagip Coron Palawan)

But Sagip Coron is now asking President Rodrigo Duterte, who is leaving office, to give up the reclaimed land and issue an executive order for the area to be fixed right away. He compares it to the Boracay task force.

In an environmental study commissioned by Sagip Coron, it was also said that the reclamation project had caused severe and irreversible damage to the marine environment of Coron, directly affecting the fisherfolk.

The study also showed a significant decrease in fish populations within the surrounding waters and the destruction of coral reefs and the mangrove ecosystem.

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is a desk editor and senior reporter of Palawan News. He covers politics, environment, tourism, justice, and sports. In his free time, he enjoys long walks with his dog, Bayani.