Provincial Board (PB) Member Lucille Lagunay has called on the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to hold off the start of construction of the Regional Cultural Hub at the Banat-i Hill in Tagbilaran City, citing environmental and social concerns that have not been addressed and may affect those living near the area.
Lagunay, in her privilege speech during the PB’s regular session on Tuesday, raised concern over the DPWH’s plan to commence construction even without undertaking an environmental impact assessment.
“The residents aired their concern on the impact of the project to the environment—like possible flooding—and why construction will already start when there is still no Environmental Impact Assessment, Environmental Compliance Certificate, and Engineering Geological and Geohazard Assessment. Moreover, there was no real social preparation being done for its constituents,” Lagunay said.
The first-term lawmaker said photos provided by concerned citizens showed that a bunkhouse was already erected in the area while construction materials have already been delivered to the site.
“Concerned citizens also took the initiative to take pictures of the site where we can see billboards being posted by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and the Commission on Audit (COA),” Lagunay said.
“As reflected in the billboards, the project was to commence on September 27, 2021 with a contract cost of P134,899,898.76,” she added.
Lagunay acknowledged the project proponents’ purpose of establishing a repository of art, culture and history and a showcase center for the region’s cultural heritage.
She also noted the project’s goal of spurring economic activity.
However, she highlighted the need for thorough assessments to be undertaken to ensure the safety of the residents.
In the same speech, Lagunay called on her colleagues in the legislative body to review processes in the implementation of construction projects “in order to strike a balance between undertaking notable and worthy projects without endangering the community or offending the values of the people.”
She noted that it was not the first time that pre-construction processes were neglected in the implementation of a government project citing the Capitol’s construction of a “bagsakan” center at the Carlos P. Garcia Park which started even without a building permit earlier this year.
“We need to review our own process in project implementation because this is not the first time it happened. Case in point: the Bagsakan or Showcase Center at the front of the Carlos P. Garcia Park, which is a public plaza. The city government called attention that the project was started even without a building permit. There is still the pending issue whether or not that Bagsakan Center should be there,” Lagunay said.
The controversial project prompted the Office of the Building Official to issue a notice of illegal construction to the Capitol.
It was also found out that the provincial government failed to secure the building permit due to the city’s zoning ordinance which prohibits the construction of a market near a public park, national road or school.
The province’s bagsakan center violated all three zoning restrictions as it is located at the CPG Park, near the Bohol Wisdom School and along CPG North Avenue, which is a national road.
The project nonetheless has been completed and has been launched as a “showcase center” for local agriculture products. (rt)