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HomeVatican UpdatesDiocese of Dumaguete Expresses Concern Over Proposed 'Smart City' Reclamation Plan

Diocese of Dumaguete Expresses Concern Over Proposed ‘Smart City’ Reclamation Plan

The P23-B project will affect the remaining marine ecosystems that support small-scale fishing.

In an open letter, the Diocese of Dumaguete raised concerns regarding the P23-billion project of E.M. Cuerpo, Inc. in the city’s center. The multi-billion peso project aims to make the city into a “Smart City”.

However, the diocese points out that the project which includes a reclamation plan will harm the city’s remaining marine ecosystems. Bishop Julito Cortes clarifies that while they are not against economic, social, and political development, a project of that scale will undoubtedly have impacts on the environment and those living in it. (Read: CBCP Launches Nationwide Program for the Care of Environment)

In the letter, the diocese said that the developers and the local government “must consider the scientific and environmental implications, not to mention its impacts on the cultural and moral life of the people in the local community.”

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The photo was taken by marine biologist Floramae Joyce Neri on July 17, a day after Dumaguete City Mayor Felipe Antonio said in a television interview that the area along the city’s boulevard has no more corals because they “have been bleached out.” (Photo by Floramae Joyce Neri)

Appeal to the Mayor

Bishop Cortes and other officials of the diocese have already appealed to Dumaguete Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo about the project. And on March 24, the diocese organized a forum against the reclamation, where they also consulted experts on the effects and impact of the project to Dumaguete.

The bishop also called for the tolling of bells at St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral at 3 PM, and praying of the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy and Pope Francis’s “A Prayer for our Earth”.

Other concerned parties

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UP IN ARMS. Activists oppose the 174-hectare reclamation project worth P23 billion in Dumaguete City. (Photo from Matthew Vince Tabilog/Rappler)

And it isn’t only the Diocese of Dumaguete who is against the reclamation plan.

National Scientist Dr. Angel Alcala, Silliman University president Dr. Betty McCann, and former SU president Dr. Ben Malayang III, who is also an environmentalist, have also previously expressed concern over the major project. They have argued that it will “destroy and bury” the remaining marine ecosystems in the city that support small-scale fishing.

According to the CBCP News, “the proposed smart city island will include a coastal wastewater treatment facility, shoreline slope, wave protection, esplanade, a marina, a modern ferry port, and an open area for sports facilities, a hospital, and a city administration hub.”

After negative reactions and concerns from various sectors, the signing of the joint venture agreement between the developer and the local government has been postponed indefinitely.

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