Environmentalists oppose construction of capitol building on Cebu mountain

John Sitchon

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Environmentalists oppose construction of capitol building on Cebu mountain

SHAVED. Netizen Wiley Yray's drone shot view of the deforested area of a mountain in Balamban gained numerous mixed reactions on March 18.

Wiley Yray

'Stop the assault. Save Cebu’s mountains,' says Save Cebu Movement’s petition on the website.

CEBU, Philippines – A coalition of concerned citizens and environmentalists started a petition on Monday, April 1, opposing the construction of the Cebu provincial government’s capitol building on a mountain in Balamban town.

In a petition on, the Save Cebu Movement alleged that the civil works, located along the slope of a mountain in Barangay Cambuhawe, Balamban, risked the geological formation’s capacity to protect critical watersheds and defend against natural disasters.

“This project poses a grave threat to the mountain ecosystem and a possible irreversible damage to the environment,” the petition read.

To recall, Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia announced in November 5, 2020, plans to relocate the provincial capitol from Cebu City to Balamban town with the aim of making government services more accessible to the public and spur development in the area.

Initially, P550 million were earmarked for land acquisition and construction work. In 2023, the province allotted P200 million and received the pledges of Senator Sonny Angara and Senator Francis Tolentino, who promised P100 million and P80 million, respectively. 

Thousands of netizens criticized the relocation after a Facebook post by Wiley Yray on March 18 showed a shaved off area of a mountain top where the project site is believed to be located.

Garcia refuted this claim on March 22, stating that the deforested area of the mountain is for a road project of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). 

Prone kaayo mo sa landslide ana, gi unsa ninyo paghunahuna (That’s so prone to landslide, how did you even think of this),” netizen Neil Descartin Tingal said in a comment on Yray’s post.

The environmental coalition demanded a halt to the project until a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was done and environmental rules and regulations were properly enforced.

Assault on environment

The Save Cebu Movement, in a statement on Saturday, March 30, condemned what it called a “continued assault” on Cebu’s mountains.

“The ongoing site development in Balamban pending a showing that a proper Environmental Impact Assessment has been conducted by the proponent shows the egregious disregard of the Constitution as well as environmental laws and regulations,” their statement read.

The coalition said that Cebu’s mountains serve as buffer zones for the Central Cebu Protected Landscape (CCPL).

The CCPL covers parts of protected areas namely, the Central Cebu National Park, Kotkot-Lusuran Watershed Forest Reserve, Mananga Watershed Forest Reserve, Sudlon National Park, and the Buhisan Dam.

The Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 2018, says buffer zones are “areas outside the boundaries of and are immediately adjacent to designated protected areas that need special development control to prevent or reduce harm to the area. “

Similar to the Bohol resort controversy, the Save Cebu Movement alleged that the project lacked important documents like the environmental compliance certificate (ECC).

“If there was no EIA and environmental compliance certificate, why did the province, municipality, and environmental department allow the DPWH to proceed, if indeed it is DPWH’s site development work,” Save Cebu Movement’s statement read.

The Save Cebu Movement called on to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Office of the Ombudsman to probe the issue immediately.

“Those responsible must be held accountable and answer to criminal, civil, and administrative liabilities,” they said.

At least 11 organizations and 15 individuals, comprising lawyers and advocates, signed the Save Cebu Movement statement on Wednesday, March 27.

Garcia’s staff said, the governor will clarify the issue in a press conference on Tuesday, April 2. –

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