Several environmental groups have slammed the recent public hearing on the impending coastal and river projects in the northern Negros Occidenatal locality.
The organizations included THE EB Magalona Small Fisherfolks Alliance (Ebmasfa), Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), Green Alert Network (GAN)-Negros Island and Group of Environmental Socialists (Goes), according to a report.
In a statement, the groups said it has called the attention of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environment Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) before the start of the activity, and they had submitted a complaint regarding the “public scooping” for the proposed river restoration and coastal rehabilitation project in the municipality.
“As affected coastal communities, we were never informed nor consulted on this important matter,” Ebmasfa chairperson Glenda Garcia was quoted in a Sunstar report.
The last public hearing was reportedly conducted on February 26 for the projects expected to address the flooding problem in the EB Magalona.
After that, the declogging and desiltation project of the town’s three major rivers may start this year.
First Terradev Corporation and Geo Alto will be responsible for the project, after the approval of the DENR, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Department of Transportation (DOTr).
GAN Representative Fr. Ernie Larida questioned the transparency of the declogging and desiltation project, including the background of the proponent and where the materials will be supplied.
Larida expressed his concerns over the protection of the municipal waters as a natural resource of the communities, as well as habitat to marine life.
He is dismayed at the “unprofessional and unethical behaviors shown by the politicians who tried to shun the organizations asking for transparency during the public hearing,” the group added.
Meanwhile, Goes also cited that the EMB should hold the issuance of an Environment Compliance Certificate (ECC) as there are still issues and concerns to clarify.
“This project should not push through, and there has to be another public hearing that is inclusive,” it said,
“Goes will be watchful of this ongoing dredging proposal since we are already made aware of what is really happening in the area,” the group added.
For the local government’s part, Mayor Marvin Malacon earlier explained that the declogging and desiltation project will be done at the mouth of rivers Imbang, Madalaga, and Malogo. He added that they are only waiting for the release of the ECC from the DENR.
“[It’s] possible that by the second quarter of the year, the project will be started,” he said.
Malacon explained that the project’s timeline will depend on the capacity of the ship where the materials from the dredging will be transferred and shipped to reclamation projects, as well as weather conditions that may stall the operations.