Provincial Board Member Benjie Arcamo, citing possible endangerment of marine environment in waters off the resort town of Panglao, expressed opposition against the revived plan to reclaim a huge swath of Panglao Bay amid allegations that he has been backing the project’s revival.
According to Arcamo who is running for Panglao mayor, experts from the University of the Philippines have already advised against the initiative as it could harm the environment not just in the proposed reclamation area, but also in the adjacent Alona Beach, the town’s top tourism draw.
“Mo-abot ang epekto didto sa kabaybayunan sa Tawala ug Alona. Huna-hunaa kuno kung madaot ang lugar tungod sa paghimo sa maong reclamation, mo padayon pa ka, na mao man na atong gisaligan, mao ni atong gikabuhian ug hinungdan sa kalambuan sa atong lungsod sa Panglao,” said Arcamo.
Arcamo claimed that during his nine-year stint as PB member of Bohol he has not expressed sentiments and supported measures that favored the reclamation project.
The reclamation of an estimated 450 hectares of Panglao Bay was initially proposed by the late governor Erico Aumentado and was junked under the administration of Governor Edgar Chatto prompting the project’s proponent, Oasis Leisure Islands Development Incorporated to file a case against the PGB.
The Joint Venture and Development Agreement (JVDA) was entered into by Oasis and the PGB represented by Aumentado on June 19, 2010, just several days away from the end of his nine-year term as governor and amid environmental issues surrounding the ambitious but controversial project.
Oasis filed a case before the court on May 21, 2012 after the PGB under Chatto and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan allegedly “renege on their obligations and refuse to honor” JVDA approved by the SP through a resolution.
The Regional Trial Court Branch 4, invoking its role as protector of the environment, ruled in favor of the PGB in cancelling the JVDA.
However, the issue resurfaced after Oasis led by its president and chairman of the board of directors Norris Oculam, perfected its appeal before the Court of Appeals last month. The case is now pending at the appellate court.
While the issue resurfaced, Arcamo has been alleged of being a supporter of the project’s revival, but the board member denied this, citing political affiliations which he said made the allegation an impossibility.
Arcamo pointed out that Oculam is openly a supporter of gubernatorial bet former Cabinet secretary Leoncio Evasco,Jr., standard bearer of the Tinuod Bol-anon local coalition which is the main opponent of Arcamo’s group, Pundok Padayon Bol-anon under Rep. Arthur Yap and Chatto.
“Ang atong mga kaatbang ilawom sila sa pundok ni Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco nga gipaluyohan sa ABAKA diin ang dako ug lig-on nila nga opisyal si Norris Oculam nga maoy proponent sa maong proyekto,” Arcamo said.
“Nganong ila man kong pasanginlan nga ang ila ra mang kauban nga proponent ug maoy nagpasaka’g sumbong sa lalawigan sa Bohol aron mapadayon ang maong proyekto sa reclamation sa Panglao, diba bale, ironical, ilang kauban ang ga-propose, ako’y ilang pasanginlan,” he added.
Oculam is reportedly to be appointed finance officer of Evasco if elected. (RT)