NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
The proposed 153-hectare reclamation project along Tagbilaran Bay ignited political fireworks amidst claim on non-transparency at the halls of the Sangguniang Panlungsod.
City Kagawad Atoy Torralba, chairman of the committee on environment, started to question what he observed was the “rush decision” of the city lawmaking body in granting the Tagbilaran Waterfront Development Corp. (TWDC) the authority to conduct the feasibility study for the P12-B worth reclamation project.
“Murag gi lipat-lipat,” was the statement of Torralba when asked on where the proposal is at this point in time.
In fact, Torralba, who is rumored to run for city mayor in 2025, said he heard that the project has already undergone bidding.
The statement of Torralba generated an immediate reaction from former City Mayor John Gessnell “Baba” Yap who was glued to the radio station, called the top-rated DYRD “Inyong Alagad” program for a phone-patched dialogue with Torralba.
The approval of the SP resolution last year triggered the verbal tussle between Yap and Torralba.
The former city mayor assured Kagawad Torralba transparency in every discussion with the proponents.
Yap clarified that what the city lawmaking body approved last year was a resolution authorizing the proponents to conduct a feasibility study while public hearing and consultations are assured to be conducted.
He allayed fears that this proposed reclamation will not be afforded with enough forum for the people to know and get to decide on whether the proposal merits the approval of the constituents especially those residing in the area fronting Tagbilaran Bay.
The proposed reclamation stretches as far as Taloto up to Mansasa.
During the discussion, Kagawad Torralba apologized for using the word “lipat-lipat.”
Kagawad Torralba delivered a privilege speech the following day, apologizing for what he uttered during the radio interview over Inyong Alagad.
LONG PROCESS TO GET APPROVED
Kagawad Butchie Zamora, for his part, said the proposed reclamation will still go a long way of discussion including a series of public hearings.
He said the proposals on reclamation will even have to reach the Regional Development Council (RDC) for approval.
The proposal has to start at the barangay level to conduct the public hearing on whether the people will endorse the said project.
The mayor also has to be given the authority to declare the said project to go on a competitive challenge if the project can generate the approval in its feasibility study.
The proponent must have to comply with the legal, technical and financial capability documents prior its discussion by the lawmakers, Zamora concluded.
ANTI-RECLAMATION FORUM SET
The Tagbilaran Baywatch through Atty. Gertrude “Gigi” Biliran is sponsoring a forum at the UB gym on Nov. 29 at 1:00 p.m.
Dubbed as the “Anti-Tagbilaran Bay Reclamation” forum, Atty. Biliran said three resource persons will speak on the relevance on why reclamation projects should be opposed.
The resource persons are Dr. Filipina Sotto, chairperson, Marine Biologist of the University of San Carlos; Dr. Aileen Maypa, associate professor of the Institute of Environment and Marine Sciences of Silliman University; and Atty. Gerthie Mayo-Anda, an environmental attorney with over 25 years of field-based practice in environmental advocacy.
Mayo-Anda established the Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) in 1990. She works as an executive director of the group.