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Boracay reclamation runs into rough waters

[ ] June 3, 2011

A 37-hectare portion of the 40-hectare reclamation project that includes part of the coastline of Boracay island in Aklan has yet to secure an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC), officials said yesterday.

In the absence of such a certificate, the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) will not issue a notice to proceed (NTP) to the project proponent – the Aklan provincial government, PRA chief Peter Anthony Abaya said.

"Environmental protection is of top priority, thus no ECC, no NTP," Abaya said.

The PRA is the approving authority for all reclamation projects.

Abaya said the PRA will be reviewing the remaining phases of the project, particularly on the Boracay side, and will also be seeking the Department of Tourism’s view on the case.

The Environmental Management Bureau (of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources also clarified that the ECC obtained for the reclamation project covers only the first phase involving a 2.6-hectare area adjacent to the Caticlan and Boracay jetty, but not the bigger portion that straddles the Boracay side.

The jetty is the gateway from mainland Aklan to Boracay.

EMB assistant director Gilbert Gonzales issued the clarification after the Boracay Foundation Inc. (BFI), which groups resorts, hotels and restaurants in Boracay, objected to the P1 billion project because of its alleged adverse impact on the environment.

The BFI has petitioned the Supreme Court for a temporary environment protection order (Tepo) against the project pending a comprehensive environmental impact assessment (EIA).

The petitioner also asked the High Court to suspend the project until the impact assessment has been made and public hearings conducted.

Citing a study conducted by marine biologists from the Marine Environmental Resource Foundation and the University of Philippines’ Marine Science Institute, the foundation said the project will affect the current and tides between Caticlan and Boracay and may cause further erosion of the sand beds on the island, a premier tourist spot.

The EMB said that it is aware of an existing memorandum of agreement signed by both the PRA and the provincial government of Aklan for the 40-hectare reclamation project.

"All concerns regarding the environment and natural resources for the project, whether in Caticlan or Boracay, will be fully addressed by the EIA process," said Gonzales.

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