City Mayor Jane Yap says NO to proposed reclamation project
In a press conference held in Bohol Tropics Resort, City Mayor Jane Yap echoed the sentiment of the people – to deny entry to the proposed reclamation project in Tagbilaran City, “WE WILL NOT CONTINUE WITH ALL ACTIVITIES RELATED TO THE TAGBILARAN CITY WATERFRONT DEVELOPMENT PROJECT, tungod kay consultative ug participative ang atong style of leadership. The heartfelt sentiments of the people, especially the statement made by Bishop Abet Uy (A man I respect so much and whose guidance I treasure the most) have reinforced my decision to NOT CONTINUE WITH ALL ACTIVITIES pertaining to the Tagbilaran City Waterfront Development Project. My priority will always be our people and our natural environment. Following the leadership example of my husband, former Mayor John Geesnell “Baba” Yap, we have always recognized that for real progress to be realized in the City of Tagbilaran, collaboration of all sectors in society is essential,” Mayor Yap said.
The group who was present to address the clarifications from the Bohol Media concerning the project were of course Mayor Yap, joined by the Focal and Member of the Selection Committee and also the Chair of the Committee on City Planning and Public Lands, City Councilor Atty. Nerio “Butchie” Zamora, Vice-Mayor Atty. Adam Relson Jala, City Legal Officer, Atty. Kathy Blanche Borja-Jamila, and City Administrator Cathelyn Torremocha.
The lady mayor added that the series of public consultations gave the City Government a deeper perspective on how to go about big-ticket projects, “Nasayod ta na daghang ikahatag na kaayuhan ang proyekto para sa city, pero kinahanglan pod unahon ang pag-submit sa Environmental Impact Statement para makahibaw ta sa environmental effects sa maong proyekto, kay mao gyud ni ang pinaka importanteng gi-pangita sa mga tao. Og ikaduha, ato pod nga i-update ang atong Public Private Partnership Ordinance para sa mga new developments nga mo sud sa Tagbilaran City pohon.”
The decision caught the staunch oppositionists off-guard who alleged that the City Government intentionally deleted the conduct of public consultations to hasten the approval of the project. This allegation was proven unfounded and baseless since according to the Public-Private Partnership Ordinance and the pre-development activities furnished by the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), the conduct of public consultation is still on the latter part of the project implementation. City Councilor Atty. Nerio “Butchie” Zamora, one of the members of the selection committee and focal of the Tagbilaran City Waterfront Development Project said that the city is only on the 3rd step of the process out of the 65 mandated steps of the PRA, “This project has a long way to go. But since Mayor Yap recognizes the crucial role of the people, the Sangguniang Panlungsod decided to conduct these public consultations, to elicit responses from the professional and skilled group, down to the barangays and grassroots levels.” The Bohol Tribune columnist Atty. Greg Austral and Dean of the University of Bohol’s College of Law noted that the conduct of public consultations is truly reflective of a participative governance.
Mayor Jane Yap also reiterated that the acceptance of the proposal does not mean that the project will be immediately implemented, “Ang pagdawat sa proposal di nagpasabot na itukod na sya dayon. Ang pagdawat sa proposal nagpasabot lang na maminaw ta for economic development opportunities. As the Most Business Friendly City in the entire Philippines (category 3) sa ikatulo ka higayon, sulod sa lima ka tuig dile pod maayo na dile ta maminaw og mga opportunities na makapasaka sa atong local income.”
The proposed waterfront reclamation project is seen to bring in huge economic benefits to the City Government. According to its projected income report, the proposed project could bring in an estimated Php500 million pesos in Real Property Taxes alone. This would eventually be shared among the six coastal barangays that would be affected by the project. To date, Brgy. Booy has an annual income of Php10 million pesos annually, once the proposed waterfront development project becomes fully operational, its income will leap to Php60 million pesos annually. On one hand, business taxes will also balloon to Php800 to 900 million pesos yearly. The additional income can be used to intensify the significant social services in Tagbilaran, such as livelihood, scholarships, hospitalization, housing, burial, health, and infrastructure. It is also expected to generate 57,000 jobs, more than half of the entire population of Tagbilaran City.
But despite these economic gains, Mayor Jane Yap stressed in her statement that the words of Bishop Abet Uy strongly resonated with her, “Every other area of our life is built on top of our spiritual life, therefore, we will listen to the advice of our Church through the discernment of Bishop Abet Uy. While we envision economic growth for Tagbilaran in order to provide more employment opportunities in our communities, we always consider the environmental impact of our economic policies and programs as a way to protect our rich natural resources for the future generations of Tagbilaranons. We take our role of responsible stewards of God’s creations to heart, as part of our mission to protect the trust that has been given to us by the people.”
During the presscon, radio commentator Tibbs Bullecer asked the lady mayor if she was happy with her decision, to which Mayor Jane Yap replied, “Yes, I am happy kay way taw na nasakitan. Sa akong pagdumala sa syudad, duha lang ka butang ang gi-sud nako sa akong alimpatakan, to lead with intellect and to lead with empathy. The issue at hand not only involve the use of my brain. During the public consultations, nakakita ko na daghang taw ang masakitan with this project. Para sa ako lang, I will be using my heart, di ko ganahan daghang masakitan na mga taw.”