TACLOBAN CITY – The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional office temporarily stopped an ongoing reclamation project in this city’s Cancabato Bay due to lack of Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC).

On Thursday, DENR set up a tarpaulin right at the reclamation site to announce an issuance of a Cease and Desist order against the Shoreline Protection Project implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Tacloban City District Office.

Both the EMB and DPWH Tacloban City could not be reached for further comment.

Earlier, Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez defended the reclamation project as a way to expand the city’s usable area. He said that out of the city’s 20,000 hectares area, only 10,000 hectares is usable since its total area includes the Cancabato Bay.

“So, what we want is to reclaim a big portion of the bay. It is also being done in other parts of the region like in Maasin and Catbalogan City,” he said.

Romualdez said the city can only expand its economic activity by doing land reclamation because the soil condition makes it inappropriate to establish high rise buildings.

“Our soil condition has a potential to create liquefaction, so we cannot build high rises here and our only option is to expand laterally,” he said.

The city’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) for 2017-2025 has identified the reclamation of the coastal areas along Cancabato Bay as among the strategies to develop a new business and financial park and buffer zone.

Romualdez admitted that the stopped reclamation project will be part of the planned new central business district of Tacloban that will be established in the future. “Yes, that is one of the targets,” he said. By Elmer Recuerdo (EV Mail April 3-9, 2023 issue)