HUNDREDS of residents and fish cage operators are opposing the ongoing construction of a ‘baywalk and fisherman’s wharf’ in Sual, Pangasinan alleging it is being built illegally by the local government since it has no Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) permit and would force them to pay additional exorbitant fees, including those demanded by the municipal hall.
“We are opposing the construction of the Sual municipal government project not only because it will affect our small business particularly during ‘bangus’ harvest time but most importantly due to so-many fees being required from us excluding the usual municipal fees,” one affected milkfish grower told the People’s Tonight in the vernacular.
The ‘bangus’ fish cage operators have been joined by affected residents in voicing their appealing for concerned government authorities to look into their complaints.
“Hundreds of families will be affected by the Sual municipal government’s plan. We learned that we will be forced to leave our homes because the place will be turned into a container yard by the local government,” a local resident said.
The affected residents spoke to the Poeple’s Tonight on condition of anonymity for fear of possible reprisal from local authorities. However, they maintained their belief that the Sual local government plan would bring it into trouble with the law, mainly because it has no PRA permit.
The Sual local government is headed by businessman-turned Mayor Roberto LL Arcinue. The 1st-class municipality, also the site of the country’s largest coal power plant, has 19 barangays with nearly 24,000 voters.
Several sources furnished the People’s Tonight documents pertaining to the controversial issue.
Last October 13, Mayor Arcinue wrote PRA general manager and chief executive officer, lawyer Janilo Rubiato, the contents of which read:
“This is in reference to your letter dated 27 September 2017 which was received by this office on October 10, 2017 directing the Municipality of Sual to Cease and Desist from undertaking further reclamation works until such time that proper permit and/or approval is secured.
“With due respect to the management of the Philippine Reclamation Authority, this municipality has stopped undertaking any reclamation activities within the 20-hectare applied area in adherence to your letter dated 22 May 2017. We just continued the completion of the structures within the four-hectare completed reclamation (actual area is estimated at 2.3 hectares only) as presented in the Master Plan which was submitted to your office per our letter dated February 6, 2017,” the mayor said.
Mayor Arcinue told the PRA that “the only ongoing activity as of this date is the construction of the BFAR Provincial Office which commenced only on the 3rd quarter of this year due to some documentary requirements like the MOA between BFAR Region 1 and LGU Sual, the signing of which was made on August 11, 2017.”
He also informed the PRA that “this municipality will continue within the last quarter of this year the concreting of the laydown yards and will also carry out the concreting of the pavement of the seawall to ensure its stability.”
The Poeple’s Tonight learned that last May 22, the PRA requested the municipality’s ‘justification/explanation why PRA should not issue a Cease and Desist Order’ re-the project.
The PRA wrote a letter citing the fact that the Land Registration Authority had said that it ‘interposes no objection’ to the request of the Sual local government under the condition that the development will only confined within the 4-hectare completed reclamation.
The People’s Tonight also learned that another PRA official, Engineer Eduardo Destura, had made clear the following: 1st, if the proposed project will be wholly funded by LGU for public use, it will be exempted from competitive building. 2nd, PRA does not require Foreshore Lease Agremeent as it runs conflict with the titling of the area; 3rd, as to the MOA between PPA and PRA, this was done during the time of President Fidel V. Ramos but it was superseded by Executive Order No. 146; 4th, not one project was approved during the time of President Benigno Aquino III and the NEDA Infra Com has proposed the amendment of EO 146; 5th, as to completed projects without permit from PRA, LGU and PRA may enter into a Memorandum of Understanding as to the processes and timelines after which it will be evaluated after 180 calendar days; and last but not the least, he said that ‘PRA will assist the LGU not to circumvent the law but to simplify the law.’
With Marian Joyce Gavino