DPWH seawall project gains reclamation authority support

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-Region 6 headed by Director Sanny Boy Oropel discussed upcoming infrastructure projects, including the Iloilo Sunset Boulevard and Bacolod-Negros Occidental Economic Highway, at the Kapihan sa Bagong Pilipinas session on May 28, 2024. (Francis Allan L. Angelo photo)

By Mariela Angella Oladive

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Region 6 confirmed that the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) has supported its claim that the halted P400-million seawall project along a portion of the city’s coastline is “not a reclamation, but a standalone structure.”

“We are in the process of explaining to the city government’s office that the project is not a reclamation but a standalone structure that aims to protect lives and properties during high tide and inclement weather. In fact, we have already secured a statement from the Philippine Reclamation Authority supporting our claim,” said DPWH-6 Regional Director Engr. Sanny Boy Oropel during the agency’s 126th Anniversary celebration on June 22.

On May 22, the city council passed a resolution to pause the seawall construction, citing the need for permits from the PRA and the city government’s Office of the Building Official (OBO).

Oropel later clarified that since the project is not a reclamation, it does not require PRA approval.

He also noted that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Region 6, represented by Executive Director Livino Duran, had issued a Certificate of Non-Coverage on August 14, 2023, through the Environmental Management Bureau.

While agreeing to comply with the resolution, Oropel emphasized the need to complete the project before the rainy season intensifies, which could affect construction efforts.

He expressed respect for the decision and assured compliance with any local government requirements to ensure its continuation.

The 635-meter seawall, currently 37.92 percent complete, is designed to protect inland areas from wave action and coastal erosion, covering barangays Rima Rizal, Rizal Pala-pala I, Rizal Pala-pala II, and Rizal Estanzuela in the City Proper district.

Meanwhile, Oropel clarified that no infrastructure projects of the agency have been revoked in the city aside from the seawall.

“The mayor’s statement does not say to revoke it; he only said that there are projects in the local office that need to be completed, so he wants them to be finished. Our funding appropriation is sometimes not enough to complete the project, so if there’s no additional fund, it will remain unfinished, and the local government has the right to continue it for the use of the constituents,” he explained, citing the mayor was misinterpreted.

On June 7, Mayor Jerry Treñas issued a statement, part of which said, “I have cancelled all approval of the city on all DPWH projects on government land – Mandurriao market, all six multi-purpose buildings, and the like. All these projects are terribly delayed. The city will look for the funds to complete the project. Extreme prejudice has resulted to the residents of the city due to the delay of these projects.”

Following the mayor’s statement, the city council on June 10 approved a resolution, revoking the authority of the DPWH-Iloilo City District Engineering Office (ICDEO) over seven projects including the Mandurriao Public Market and the multipurpose buildings/evacuation centers in barangays San Isidro, Jaro district; Tanza Esperanza in the City Proper; Sta. Filomena in Arevalo district; Balantang in Jaro; and Katilingban in Molo district.

The resolution criticized the DPWH for failing to meet timelines, resulting in budget overruns, public inconvenience, and disruptions to economic activities.

Councilor Johnny Young, chairperson of the council’s Committee on Engineering, Construction & Public Works, proposed the resolution, later admitting that it was based on an urgent request by the mayor to the council and was passed on the spot without being referred to his committee for study and consultations.

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