ILOILO CITY — Officials and residents of Malay town in Aklan province are opposing a port project along the coast of Barangay Caticlan, the jump-off point to the popular resort island of Boracay, due to environmental and safety concerns.
The Malay government has issued a notice of violation and work stoppage order against the project implemented by the Department of Transportation (DOTr). “We are unaware of the project and we were surprised to see concrete piles being erected along the coast,” said Malay Councilor Nenette Aguirre-Graf, chair of the council’s committee on environment.
Graf said local officials sought an explanation from the DOTr on the implementation of the project but had yet to receive a reply. The contractor, she said, had not heeded the notice of violation and work stoppage order issued by the municipal development and zoning office on Dec. 1. She said the contractor had told the local government that it was bound by its contract with the DOTr.
According to Niven Maquirang, Caticlan port administrator, the project is part of a P200-million development package covering the Caticlan and Cagban ports in Caticlan and Boracay, respectively, to accommodate more ferries and boats.
But Graf said the project violated a 2014 Supreme Court order allowing a controversial reclamation project covering 2.64 hectares in Caticlan. “The concrete piles are outside the reclamation project of the provincial government,” Graf said. The Supreme Court, in August 2014, lifted a three-year suspension order on the reclamation project after business owners agreed to allow it as long as it was limited to 2.6 ha along the Caticlan coast.
The reclamation of parts of the Caticlan shoreline is designed to be part of a P1.3-billion project in a 40-ha reclamation site approved by the Philippine Reclamation Authority. The area covers 36.82 ha in Caticlan and 3.18 ha on Boracay Island.
But business operators and Boracay residents opposed the project, citing environmental and safety concerns and lack of consultation. They cited a study by marine biologists from the University of the Philippines showing that the reclamation project would likely affect the current and tide movement in the area and may cause further sand erosion in Boracay. Maquirang said no further reclamation would be done in the area.