TACLOBAN CITY, (PNA) – The Department of Public Works and Highways is “holding in abeyance” three sections of the Php7.95- billion tide embankment project in this city as local government officials and affected residents raised skepticism on the “Great Wall” project.
DPWH Assistant Regional Director Edgar Tabacon said the project will be temporarily put on hold in highly populated areas the city until all issues are addressed.
Among the concerns raised are lack of consultation, incomplete relocation projects and absence of clearances from government regulators.
The 27.3-kilometer project stretches from Diit village in Tacloban to Cabuynan village in Tanauan town. Sections 1 to 3 are in Tacloban, section 4 are coastal villages of Tacloban and Palo, section 5 are some areas in Palo and Tanauan, and section 6 in Tanauan town.
The four-meter high structure, designed to shield coastal communities from big waves, was pushed through by President Benigno S. Aquino III after the 2013 storm surges wiped out most parts of Leyte province.
“We will hold it in abeyance for Tacloban area, as government looks for long term solutions to different issues and concerns. We will probably start the construction in Palo and Tanauan, since those areas are less populated,” Tabacon said in an interview.
Mayor Alfred Romualdez asked the DPWH to seek endorsements from other national government agencies such as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
“I’m not against the project, neither I’m supporting it. I am asking for studies that support the project because even in building houses, there are many required clearances,” Romualdez told reporters during a press briefing after the 2nd year of super typhoon “Yolanda” commemorative program.
“We cannot just rely on JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) studies because they are not accountable to the Filipino people,” he added.
Tabacon said that they are now in the process of getting Environmental Compliance Certificate from the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (EMB). DPWH officials have attended three deliberations with EMB, tackling issues found in environmental impact studies.
“All potential negative impacts will be given mitigation measures by our contractors. We are even encouraging EMB to issue notice if there are violations,” Tabacon added.
Tabacon is positive that once the project is completed in Palo and Tanauan towns, they can proceed with the construction in this city.
The DPWH has been conducting consultations in affected communities to listen to concerns of residents who will be displaced by the project.
The Php7.9 billion “Great Wall” project include civil works and right of way acquisition broken down in four years – Php1.46 billion for 2016, Php1.19 billion for 2017, Php2.64 billion for 2018, and Php2.64 for 2019. (PNA)
FPV/SARWELL Q. MENIANO