Sandra Cabangon

Fishermen from Gubat, Sorsogon urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to investigate an ongoing coastal road construction for potential use of corals and its certain detrimental effects on the environment and livelihood.

Photo Courtesy of DPWH/Pamalakaya-Pilipinas

“We call on the DENR to look into the ongoing construction of a coastal road project in Sorsogon that involves dead corals. The agency should order its provincial environment office to conduct an inspection on the project site and assess if these corals have been deliberately extracted elsewhere. It would be unacceptable if coral reefs are being destroyed and uprooted for a dump and fill project,” Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) national chairperson Fernando Hicap said.

Meanwhile, members of the Save Gubat Bay Movement (SGBM) raised their concerns with regard to the adverse effects of the construction on their livelihood.

“Bukod sa posibilidad na may sinisirang bahura o coral reefs para sa proyektong coastal road, may tiyak na pinsala ang mismong proyekto sa kalikasan at pangisdaan ng aming bayan dahil sa reklamasyon. Tinatambakan ng lupa ang baybaying-dagat na pangunahing pinagkukunan ng kabuhayan ng aming mga mangingisda, partikular ng mga nag-aalimango,” said Allan Espallardo, SGBM president.

SGBM members consist of a federation of local fishers, crablet raisers, small-scale seashell pickers, vendors, and environmental advocates. They assert that the project is being implemented without consulting the affected communities, and without the Environmental Compliance Certificate – a document which could have assessed the construction’s impact on marine life and biodiversity.

Jesus Fideliaga, one of the SGBM leaders, said that the coastal road has negatively affected the coastal communities, with one prominent effect being the exacerbating flooding due to the blocking of natural waterways. According to Fideliaga, the continuation of the coastal road project would threaten to block the access of locals and fisherfolks to the sea and disturb the natural habitat and thriving diversity in the area.

Save Gubat Bay Movement members already sought help from Vice President Leni Robredo during her visit last February 9. 

The Sorsogon Coastal Road is a project of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) under the Build, Build, Build (BBB) program of the previous Duterte administration.

Edited by Jennylou Canon