Envi group mulls Writ of Kalikasan on Samal-Davao bridge

May. 24, 2024
Paradise Reef in Samal (Photo from Dyesabel Philippines’ Facebook page)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – An environmental coalition is considering legal action on the Samal Island-Davao City Bridge project (SIDC) after seeing little action from the city government on the environmental damages that the project may bring to both Davao and Samal Island.

The Save Davao Movement (SDM) said they are considering this action after they felt the cold treatment during their visit to the city council on Tuesday, May 21, to seek their action on the cutting of 200 trees in Lanang for the bridge project.

The Samal-Davao bridge was one of the projects pushed by the past Duterte administration and was awarded in 2021 to China Bridge and Road Construction (CBRC) for P23 billion. The bridge project is long clamored by both Davao and Samal residents to boost traffic and tourism for Samal that is known for its resorts.

READ: Philippine locals lose hope as China-funded bridge threatens ‘biologically priceless’ Paradise Reef

The SDM, however, found “urgent environmental concerns” such as the recent cutting of trees, and clamored for the realignment of the bridge as the project would affect the marine ecosystem in Samal Island and displacement of livelihood.

SDM convener Attorney Romeo Cabarde said they intended to seek the city council and its committee on the environment to ask for the “long overdue” committee report related to the SIDC.

The group said there were a series of hearings conducted by the committee chair Councilor Temujin Ocampo last year from October and November, and hasn’t been presented to the council or the public.

“The report should come out because it’s been two years of committee hearings and until now there’s no committee report. We wonder how long is this committee report?” asks Cabarde.  

“At least we want to know as we are being represented by the councilors, we want to know their take on the bridge, if they had given the city’s consent, which they claim was in their resolution of no objection, was it a no objection to the feasibility study or is it for the exact location of the bridge,” he added.

But the group was disappointed by Ocampo’s reaction to media interviews that day as he expressed surprise that the trees were cut down as part of the clearing operations for the start of the bridge project.

“We are relying on them. When our efforts to communicate with DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) and DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) are not working, we really rely on the LGU to be responsive. But with the treatment we got this morning, we are thankful to have the chance, but we haven’t seen any positive action on their part to really protect the environment,” said Carmela Santos, executive director of the Ateneo de Davao University’s Ecoteneo.

Cabarde said that even as the group holds optimism that the city council may act on their concerns, they still consider filing a Writ of Kalikasan against DPWH, DENR, the contractor CBRC, and possibly the LGU’s of Samal and Davao City. 

The Writ of Kalikasan is a legal remedy that will protect areas from the potential environmental damage caused by development projects such as the SIDC project. (davaotoday.com)

comments powered by Disqus