PRA orders forfeiture of reclaimed Coron property

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 29 2022 03:25 PM

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MANILA — The Philippine Reclamation Authority has forfeited in favor of the national government a portion of the controversial reclamation project in Coron, Palawan.

In a board meeting on June 16, the board resolved to forfeit 22 hectares of what the agency called unauthorized reclamation undertaken by the provincial government in Palawan and its joint venture partners as it did not have area clearance from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

"The basis is the proponent of the project proceeded to do the reclamation without completing the requirements and conditions set forth by the board," lawyer Janilo Rubiato, general manager and CEO of PRA, told ANC.

The forfeiture order is also based on a directive issued by President Rodrigo Duterte in March this year.

The reclamation project became controversial because it dramatically altered the coastal landscape of Coron, a known tourism destination. Environment advocates have said the project also brought negative impact on the town's marine ecosystem.

Rubiato said the reclamation was conducted "during the time of pandemic when nobody was looking." 

It was brought to PRA's attention in March when Sagip Coron sought an audience with the President, he added.

"We saw for ourselves indeed the reclamation was poorly done precisely because it was not supervised properly by the proper authorities when the actual reclamation was conducted," Rubiato said.

Joel Garcia, a volunteer for Sagip Coron, said the group was elated at PRA's decision.

"Dito po sa Coron ay masaya po na marinig 'yung balita na yan," he told ANC. "Kami po ay nagpapasalamat sa Diyos na dininig 'yung dasal namin at sa administrasyong Duterte na nakinig dun po sa hinaing ng mga kasama namin dito."

A group of environment advocates has called for the rehabilitation of Coron Bay.

A biophysical study conducted by a marine biologist showed 27 percent of corals in impacted area were dead while others were slowly dying from continuous sedimentation. 

Mangroves are also in danger of dying after being cut off from access to regular water supply, the study revealed.

Sagip Coron has blamed the provincial government for the project. They alleged the government had various violations including the absence of mitigating measures to avoid the destruction of mountains, mangroves and the marine ecosystem.