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Mangroves temporarily spared as public scoping for Suroyan Project is cancelled

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ORMOC, Leyte — THE public scoping for the Ormoc Estuary Park, also known as Suroyan Project, has been cancelled for failure to comply with jurisdictional requirements. The public scoping was held on May 09, 2024 at the Barangay Gym of Brgy. Naungan, Ormoc City.

Groups that pushed for the cancellation include the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), Sanlakas, Save Ormoc Bay Aggrupation (SOBA), Partido ng Lakas ng Masa (PLM), Oriang, and local fisherfolk organizations including NEFCOFA.

The proponent, Premiumlands Corporation, was reportedly unable to provide the project description for scoping (PDS), among other conditions needed such as the presentation of their Environmental Compliance Certificate and conduct of an Information and Education campaign months prior to the public scoping.

The Ormoc Estuary Park is part of the Ormoc Mega City, which will displace and disrupt an estimated 935 hectares of mangroves, including 191 hectares under the jurisdiction of DENR’s Community Based Forest Management Agreement (CBMFA). This will affect at least 50 mangrove planter organizations, 500+ fisherfolk across three barangays (Lao, Naugan, and San Juan) of Ormoc Mega City, and around 3,000 families.

“We push back against these public scopings because they keep repeating the same mistake of ignoring requirements and railroading their projects,” said Fara Diva Gamalo, Eastern Visayas Chapter Convenor of PMCJ. “The Suroyan Project affects thousands of locals. These locals need to be consulted about a construction that would put their lives and livelihood in danger.”

Mangroves are essential for coastal communities because they are natural defenses against waves and storms. They also function as homes for fish, enriching the marine ecosystem and providing livelihood opportunities to locals.

Estela Vasquez, Visayas Coordinator of PMCJ, brought up the recent El Niño to show the urgency of the situation. “We are in a climate emergency, and we just experienced one of its effects during the recent heat waves. More than ever, it is important to protect the mangrove forest and our biodiversity hotspots.”

She emphasized: “Projects should be contextualized in the Local Climate Change Adaptation Plan (LCCAP), not just for recreation and commercial purposes.”

Groups have demanded that the proponents and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) consult with the affected communities more closely for the protection of these natural resources.|

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