Environmental groups questioned and slammed the recent public hearing conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in EB Magalona, Negros Occidental, on the declogging and desiltation project in the four town rivers, to address the flood problem that has affected residents for several decades now.
This project should not push through, and there has to be another public hearing that is inclusive, the Group of Environmental Socialist (GOES) Inc. said in a press release sent to the DAILY STAR.
The declogging and desiltation project in the Madalag, Malogo and Imbang rivers in EB Magalona, Negros Occidental, to address the perennial problem of flooding, through a public-private partnership, will be conducted without costing the local government a single centavo, project proponent First Terradev Corp. (FTC), said.
The DENR recently issued Administrative Order Number 1 rationalizing dredging activities in heavily-silted waterways within Negros Occidental, based on a joint memorandum circular issued in April last year by the DENR, Departments of Interior and Local Government, Public Works and Highways as well as Transportation providing guidelines on flood mitigation activities, especially in dredging of water channels.
Green Alert said in a press statement that it questioned the transparency of the project and background of its proponent, while the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement- Negros claimed that the planned dredging business violates the ordinance of the local government unit.
PRRM-Negros also pointed out that there is no assurance on how the investors can ensure that the dredging will not violate the safety of the local waters, especially because the LGU does not have the capacity to research and monitor such processes in the operation.
The environmentalist groups, in their press release, also stressed that the Environmental Management Bureau should hold the issuance of an ECC because there were issues, and concerns, and no clarification during the public hearing.
But Mayor Marvin Malacon earlier said that “It’s all systems go”, for the project, which got the overwhelming support of the Saraviahanons, who are flood victims, but opposed by some people, who are not even town residents.
A study made by the PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) in 1996 showed that EB Magalona is now below sea level, Malacon said, adding that it has led to riverbank erosion and deposits from the rivers of Malogo, Madalag and Imbang, and also resulted in heavy siltation of its coastal barangays covering 600 hectares.
Eric Tagle, president and chief operating officer of First Terradev Corp., who attended the public hearing last week in EB Magalona, disclosed that the silt, mud, sand and dirt accumulated over the years will be transported out of Negros, for reclamation projects.*
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