DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A family of pioneering investors in the Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS) asked the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the P23-billion Samal Island-Davao City Connector (SIDC) project.
The Rodriguez family requested the TRO on the premise that it would affect the Paradise Reef located at the beachfront of Paradise Island Park and Beach Resort all the way to the adjacent Costa Marina Beach Resort. The family owns both properties.
Paradise Reef is an “underwater garden” of at least 7,500 square meters of corals. Based on a study commissioned by the Rodriguez family, the reef hosts 79 species of hard corals, 26 species of soft corals, and over 100 species of fishes.
With the approved alignment of the SIDC project, the Rodriguez family fears Paradise Reef, an environmentally critical area, will be compromised.
The project’s landing point is located on the coast of Costa Marina Beach Resort in Barangay Caliclic.
Its take-off point in Davao City, along the R. Castillo-Daang Maharlika junction in Barangay Hizon, is a marine protected area as included in the Comprehensive Land-Use Plan 2018-2028. It has 2.7 square meters of coral reefs.
The SIDC Bridge aims to connect Davao City and IGACOS, a known tourist destination for its beaches, sanctuaries of bats and giant clams, and waterfalls. Once completed in 2027, it will serve at least 25,000 vehicles daily.
“This matter is now pending before the Supreme Court and the DENR office is yet to receive an order from the Court,” said Bagani Fidel Evasco, Executive Director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Davao Region, in an interview.
Evasco said the original petition for continuing mandamus with a prayer for issuance of a TRO and writ of preliminary injunction against the construction of the Samal Bridge was dismissed by the Court of Appeals early this year. There is also no existing Foreshore Lease Agreement and nobody applied for it in Davao City.
Pending the final decision of the court, he said there would not be any movement but the Multipartite Monitoring Team will still be functioning.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has expected contractors of the SIDC Bridge to submit their Detailed Engineering Design plans for foundation structures and start the project once approved.
The Rodriguez family has been requesting the DPWH for the realignment of the SIDC Bridge’s landing site “to protect and preserve the Paradise Reef” and to avert the “enormous threat to the marine environment and food security”.
It has offered to donate a portion of El Paril Beach Resort as an alternative landing site for its “much less environmental impact”.
In early 2019, the Infrastructure Development of the Davao Region’s Development Council approved the bridge’s alignment and landing points – from Samal Circumferential Road in Barangay Limao to Davao City’s R. Castillo and Daang Maharlika junction – because of economic and logistical advantages.
President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos and Vice President Sara Duterte headed the groundbreaking ceremony last October 27.
Lucelle Bonzo is an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow.
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