Three committees of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) will commence on Tuesday, January 16, its investigation in aid of legislation over the Central Visayas Cultural Hub project that is ongoing construction at the top of Banat-i Hill in Barangay Bool, Tagbilaran City.
This was bared by City Councilor Malvin Misael “Atoy” Torralba, chairman of the SP Committee on Environment, which will be jointly conducting the investigation with the committees on Engineering chaired by City Councilor Charles Cabalit and the committee on Public Safety chaired by City Councilor Ondoy Borja.
It may be recalled that last week, fellow city lawmaker Gemma Inting, sounded the alarm over the construction works at the top of the hill amid fears of residents in its nearby low-lying areas that it could cause landslide and flooding.
Aside from Inting, city governance facilitator Rosalinda Paredes also cited in her Facebook post that based on her research and what she considers an “expert opinion” of a licensed environmental planner and civil engineer, Banat-i Hill is “a limestone hill” and any disturbance of its topsoil will aggravate its landslide susceptibility.
The Facebook post showed a photograph of the hill and a GIS (geographic information system) map indicating that Banat-i Hill is “not only a rain-induced landslide (RIL) area but also an earthquake induced landslide (EIL) area.”
Paredes also decried the lack of community consultation and project presentation to the public.
“Unlike a PPP (public-private partnership) project that a community consultation and project presentation is mandatory to the affected communities who are expected in a true PPP project to provide inputs to the project to ensure social and environmental acceptance by local stakeholders,” Paredes said in the Facebook post.
“Kini national project nga ingon ra ta, naa nay budget, na bid na, naa nay contractor. Wala nay mahimo ang community,” she added. [But with this national project we are just told, there is already a budget, bidding was already conducted, it has been awarded to a contractor. There is nothing the community can do.]
Another issue raised by Paredes is the seeming lack of a study on the carrying capacity of the hill, posing a question on the effect of so many people going to cultural hub which is situated at the top of the hill while bringing with them their vehicles.
Paredes added that for so many years, local stone gatherers have been taking stones, big and small, from the hill as their source of livelihood. Paredes indicates this livelihood activity has however taken its toll on the topsoil of the hill.
Inting, who chairs the SP committee on tourism, called on her fellow councilors specially the committees on environment, public safety, and engineering to immediately conduct an investigation.
It may be recalled that the project was initially awarded P135-million funding from national appropriations. (Kit Bagaipo)