The public has the right to know the real score in the reclamation issue in Panglao and Pundok Padayon Bol-anon slate in the town of Panglao set the record straight after being maliciously accused by the opposing camp of being behind the project.
The camp of Panglao Mayor Nila Montero, under the slate of Tinuod nga Bol-anon, accused Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member Venzencio Arcamo, who is running for mayor of Panglao under Pundok Padayon Bol-anon, as behind the reclamation project.
This prompted Arcamo to set the record straight to save the public from deception.
In front of a large crowd of around 2,000 people during the Pundok Padayon Bol-anon proclamation rally on Sunday night, Arcamo pointed out that he had even represented the provincial government in court in one of the hearings of the case filed against them by the Oasis Leisure Island Development, Inc. (OLIDI).
The minutes of the regular sessions of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) sometime in 2011 would show that Arcamo was among those who interrogated OLIDI legal counsel, Lawyer Carlos Castillo, during the SP investigation on the joint venture and development agreement (JVDA) entered into by former governor and the late 2nd District Rep. Erico Aumentado with Oasis Leisure Island Development, Inc. (OLIDI) for the reclamation project in Panglao.
The investigation was initiated by the SP Committee on Environment then chaired by SP Member Abel Damalerio.
Arcamo pointed out during last Sunday’s rally that since the start of the issue on the reclamation project, he had already been vocal against it.
It is ironic now that Montero’s camp accused him of being behind the reclamation project when, in fact, it is Montero who is associated with Tinuod nga Bol-anon that fields former Cabinet secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. for governor and Evasco is supported by ABAKA and ABAKA’s chairman Norris Oculam is the one who is the president of OLIDI that is the proponent of the reclamation project, Arcamo pointed out.
This is obvious now that Montero is deceiving the voters of Panglao, being conscious that the reclamation project would hurt her candidacy because the people in Panglao opposed the project, according to Arcamo.
For the guidance of the public, Arcamo traced the history of issues surrounding the reclamation project proposed by Oculam.
At the close of his last term, former governor Aumentado signed the JVDA with OLIDI but the provincial administration of Gov. Edgar Chatto that succeeded reviewed the agreement.
The record at the SP would show that in 2011, as results of the investigation, the SP approved three resolutions scrapping the Panglao project and any other reclamation project based on the recommendation of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources Protection and the Committee on Tourism.
One resolution cancelled/rescind the JVDA with OLIDI, while another resolution authorized the Governor’s Office to withdraw the application for reclamation filed before the Philippine Reclamation Authority, and the third resolution contained the opposition to the establishment of any form of reclamation within the shores of Panglao Island.
Damalerio then, in his committee report, said the project poses “clear and present danger to the healthy biodiversity and sensitive marine environment within the offshore area of Panglao Bay.”
He also said the PB found that OLIDI had no competence to implement the project having no track record in undertaking similar projects aside from lack of the financial capacity considering that it has only P12 million capitalization.
It was also noted that OLIDI only registered with the Security and Exchange Commission a few months prior to the signing of the JVDA.
The two committees of the SP also found out the project to be highly disadvantageous to the province with the P1-million per hectare assessment on the valuation of the area that will be given up for the project.
Damalerio then said there would be expenses that the provincial government, as project co-proponent, will incur such as the processing of permits and other documents and even the access roads or the road-right-of-way.
An updated and site-specific study that would objectively calibrate the impact of the proposed reclamation project of OLIDI in a portion of the Bohol Marine Triangle (BMT) was also suggested at that time by the new chancellor of the University of the Philippines (UP)-Diliman, Dr, Caesar Saloma—a Boholano from Baclayon.
Dr. Saloma, who used to be the dean of the UP College of Science, is a member of the Manila-based advisory council of Gov. Edgar Chatto.
The advisory council emphasized that a scientific study must first be conducted before proceeding to any reclamation or any development project not only in Panglao but also in other parts of Bohol.
For the recently proposed island construction project of OLIDI, Dr. Saloma suggested that a site-specific study must be conducted, since the assessment on the biodiversity in the BMT was done years ago and too general.
Even a previous study and general concept of a reclamation project hinted that the alteration in Panglao Bay that it involves will have negative impact on the environment, especially that it would involve 450 hectares of seawaters—an area bigger than the 220 hectares for the New Bohol Airport.
When the provincial government, under Chatto, junked the project, OLIDI sued the province and the case is now pending at the Court of Appeals.