Residents fear proposed reclamation project in Catmon, Cebu

John Sitchon

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Residents fear proposed reclamation project in Catmon, Cebu

THREATENED. A 95.5-hectare reclamation project threatens the environment of Catmon, a town in Northern Cebu known for its pristine waters and mountainous topography.

Jacqueline Hernandez/Rappler

Catmon Mayor Avis Monleon believes the reclamation project can wake up their 'sleeping town' and solve problems like flooding, but admits not doing research on the impact of such programs

CEBU, Philippines –  A P11.6-billion proposed reclamation project threatens local livelihood in the coastal town of Catmon in Cebu, residents told Rappler on Saturday, February 18..

The planned  95.54-hectare industrial park and international container port would destroy the environment and widen the gap between the rich and poor, said lawyer Baldomero Cortes Estenzo.

Estenzo feels responsible for the town folk as their family has resided in Catmon for a century. His father, the late judge Numeriano Gica Estenzo, was the first lawyer of the Northern Cebu town known for pristine waters and mountainous topography. 

Many residents are fisherfolk, farmers, and resort owners who rely on local tourism for livelihood.

“This will totally change 100% of the geographic face of Catmon,” resident martial artist Virgil Cavada warned.

He described the process so far as coming “out of nowhere and not very transparent” to residents.

“In their proposal, they actually stated that ‘one of the main driving forces for the materialization of this project is the building of petroleum and oil depots’,” Cavada pointed out. “That statement made me very sad for Catmon.”

SHORELINE. Catmon’s shoreline will be the most affected part of the town if the reclamation project pushes through. Jacqueline Hernandez/Rappler
Reclaiming a ‘sleeping town’

Catmon Mayor Avis Monleon said their “sleeping town” needs the reclamation project.

She won the local race in 2022 with the project among the highlights of her platform. 

“We wanted also that what is in the other towns, we have also here in our town. Like for example, department stores…the SM, the Jollibee…that’s why we conceptualized the reclamation project,” the mayor told Rappler on February 18.

Monleon believes the reclamation project would solve the town’s problems, including flooding.

But when asked if she had researched reclamation projects, the mayor replied, “No, I do not have research at all.”

“I have observed that because we are living near the beach, and every time there is a flood, it’s very dirty. When there’s a big typhoon, the fear of the big waves is clear so that’s why I’m thinking, because of the reclamation project, all those problems will be solved,” she explained.

Monlean later clarified that the town would rely on reclamation project studies by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

NOT HERE. Catmon residents, resort owners and concerned citizens, gather for a meeting with Catmon Mayor Avis Monleon and other officials on the proposed reclamation of Catmon’s seashore, on February 18, 2023.
P11.6-billion project

Private developer CVN Philippines Construction Inc. submitted a proposal for the Catmon-Cebu Industrial Park and Development Project (CIPDP) in July 2022 and a letter of intention a month after.

The developer plans to reclaim 95.54 hectares of land along the foreshore areas of Barangays Catmondaan, Macaas, and Flores on the Cebu Central Nautical Highway.

With a total investment of P11,57 billion, the project includes a passenger and container port, business centers, petroleum and oil depots, and road developments. The proposal offers the government 51% of the reclaimed land.

The municipal council approved a resolution allowing the mayor to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the private developer. The MOA signed on December 7, 2022 allows the private firm to conduct research under supervision of the municipal government.

The municipal government will not shoulder the cost of the project if it pushes through with a joint venture agreement.

LAND USE. The land use allocation for the 95.54-hectare CIPDP as stated in CVN Philippines’ project proposal. Virgil Cavada.
Transparency issues

“I told them that before the study, we have to inform the stakeholders first because it’s not fair that after the study, we inform the stakeholders,” the mayor told Rappler.

Residents, which including families, lawyers, environmentalists, and resort owners attended the February 18 meeting with LGU officials at the Catmondaan barangay hall.

Estenzo, representing the families, reiterated a request from the environmental group Save Cebu Movement for the documents related to the project, which the families have also yet to see.

LACK OF TRANSPARENCY. Virgil Cavada, martial art artists and Catmon resident who opposes the planned reclamation project criticizes the lack of transparency and the sidelining of local businesses in favor of petroleum and oil depots. Jacqueline Hernandez/Rappler

James Cooper, an American private investigator whose wife owns a resort in Catmon, also raised his concern over the lack of transparency. 

CVN’s plan notes it would not touch lateral foreshore.

“We would have loved to have been informed that we should stop investing now because the LGU is going to destroy the value of our coastal property,” Cooper said during the meeting.

He said the municipal government refused his requests for documents multiple times.

An official also warned against “constantly asking questions,” he added, without naming the official.

Officials told Cooper it may have just been a misunderstanding.

They pledged not to push the project if it is found to be against the interest of residents. But they stressed the need to wait for the outcome of the study mandated by the MOU.

TRANSPARENCY. During the meeting, Cooper asked officials if they could commit to being transparent after he was allegedly refused information multiple times. Jacqueline Hernandez/Rappler

Lawyer Rowell Juban, a municipal councilor of Catmon, told the residents that they could get a copy of the documents from the municipal hall on Monday, February 20.

Presidential Directive No. 2022-16, signed on April 12, 2022 by then president Rodrigo Duterte, set a moratorium on the acceptance of new applications for reclamation. 

As of this writing, there are around 25 requests for reclamation projects in the country. –

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!