DPWH-6 seeks dialog and resolution on seawall project

(Francis Allan L. Angelo photo)

By Joseph Bernard A. Marzan

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Region 6 will request a special session with the Sangguniang Panglungsod of Iloilo City to address concerns surrounding its P400-million seawall project along a portion of the city’s coastline.

This move follows a resolution passed by the city council on May 22 to halt DPWH-6’s construction work, based on findings from the council’s engineering, public services, and urban planning committees.

The committees stated that the project required permits from the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and the city government’s Office of the Building Official (OBO).

During the Kapihan sa Bagong Pilipinas session on May 28, DPWH-6 Regional Director Sanny Boy Oropel clarified misconceptions about the project, stating that it is not a reclamation project and therefore does not need PRA approval.

He added that he had already brought this up with Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Region 6 Executive Director Livino Duran, citing the Certificate of Non-Coverage issued on August 14, 2023, approved by Regional Director Ramar Niel Pascua of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), one of the DENR-6’s attached agencies.

“The structure of the seawall is a standalone structure, so it cannot be considered as a reclamation [project]. We are not backfilling behind it, so we wouldn’t need clearance from the [PRA],” Oropel said.

“We already talked and discussed these things before the project implementation with the DENR, especially with [Duran]. [Duran] had said in front of me, not to make it a reclamation, and then there would be no need for the DPWH a clearance coming from the PRA,” he added.

Oropel said that while they will comply with the council’s resolution, they seek a dialogue to explain their position and to request time to complete the project before the rainy season worsens.

“We don’t want to be misconstrued as not listening to the resolution, but we are seeking a dialogue, sending a letter for a special session, and it will be attended by us,” he said.

Oropel emphasized the urgency, citing recent rains and the approaching southwest monsoon (habagat), which would complicate construction efforts.

“What we want to ask from the city council of Iloilo is to give us a little time, because it is now raining, which we have experienced for the last 2 days, maybe due to Tropical Depression Aghon, but when the habagat (southwest monsoon) comes it will be more difficult for us to build because of the situation, the actual field condition. Hopefully if we will be given the chance, we can finish this before the rain gets worse,” he added.

He also noted that materials and equipment currently placed within the seawall’s vicinity are essential for ongoing development and mentioned that due to material scarcity in Iloilo, many resources had to be sourced from neighboring locations.

According to DPWH-6, the 635-meter seawall, made of armor rocks, aims to protect inland areas from wave action and prevent coastal erosion and is currently 37.92 percent complete. It encompasses barangays Rima Rizal, Rizal Pala-pala I, Rizal Pala-pala II, and Rizal Estanzuela in City Proper district.

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