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SC takes up Boracay reclamation

by Rey E. Requejo
[ ] August 4, 2011

The Supreme Court will hold oral arguments on a petition seeking to stop the Aklan provincial capitol and other agencies from implementing a P1-billion reclamation project along the shores of Boracay Island.

Chief Justice Renato Corona said the SC en banc set the proceedings for September 13 in a controversy that has divided stakeholders at the world-class travel destination in the Visayas.

“This will enable the parties to the case to amplify their positions on the issue presented before the court,” he said.

The high tribunal earlier issued a temporary environment protection order under a Writ of Kalikasan in favor of the Boracay Foundation Inc., a group of resort, hotel, and restaurant operators well as community organizations and environmental advocates.

With the order, Aklan Gov. Carlito Marquez, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Philippine Reclamation Authority are mandated to “cease and desist from conducting reclamation activities along the coastline of Boracay and Malay in Aklan.”

In its petition, foundation lawyer Joel Ruiz Butuyan sought the holding of public hearings and a comprehensive impact assessment.

The group said any reclamation project involving so-called “co-located” activities needed evaluation, which the local government failed to perform.

“The various unlawful machinations perpetrated by respondent province in fraudulently classifying and misrepresenting as a non-environmentally critical project in an ECA (environmental critical areas), the subject project, and as a single project instead of a co-located one, has unlawfully and improperly provided it with opportunity to exploit and circumvent the regulations intended to protect the environment, particularly those environmental critical areas particularly Boracay,” the petion said.

According to Butuyan, the capitol has started implementing the project late last year.

Citing documents, the group noted that Phase I on the Caticlan side was indicated as mere “rehabilitation” of the jetty port, the gateway from mainland Aklan to Boracay, crossing a narrow strait.

Butuyan echoed warnings from a study made by University of the Philippines marine biologists, showing that reclamation would disturb tidal flow and hasten erosion of the white sands in Boracay.

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