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AS is the normal sequence, the horse must have pulled the cart. But in the case of the new City of Manresa developed by Cebu Landmasters Inc., the cart hit the horse first.
You don’t need to be a seer or clairvoyant to see the crowded future of uptown Cagayan de Oro. In fact, urban misery has already begun – traffic jams, flooding, land use problems. Any new development in the district must strictly follow the government-mandated order of things – conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment before launching the project.
CLI and Xavier University, whose new Masterson Campus will be built by CLI together with the mixed development Manresa Town, first launched the project before conducting the assessment. Now, the project may be shelved due to non-compliance issues raised by the Environmental Management Bureau.
It should be noted that among the main opponents are the residents of Lower Balulang who live below the slope of the rise now known as Manresa. They held a protest rally in Divisoria right across the XU Ateneo campus. Did the leadership of XU listen to them? It did not, although some of the protesters were former employees of the late Fr. William Masterson SJ of Manresa Farms.
The first issue of EMB in XU-CLI is the problem of drainage and flooding, as warned by the opponents of Lower Balulang. “Continuing its implementation without a firm commitment from the government” to provide infrastructure for drainage and receiving water channels will result in “more frequent flooding in Lower Balulang.”
The XU-CLI plan continues without guarantees for Lower Balulang residents. That’s an inexplicable mystery coming from an institution that primes its alumni to be “men and women for others.” In fact, the EMB emphasized that there were “representations from affected residents.” The EMB’s straightforward requirement: “Please identify the final location of the drainage outfall,” but also that the compliant public drainage system be completed AHEAD of the project’s construction schedule.
That’s not even the worst part of EMB’s warnings against XU and CLI. The two proponents submitted a Traffic Impact Assessment prior to the validation and approval of the city’s Roads and Traffic Authority, which the EMB said should have been obtained “before any development activity began.” Again, the cart is put before the horse.
The proponents proposed a spine road that will connect Masterson Avenue and Lower Balulang to Balulang Bridge without providing accurate information. It also did not present any analysis on how to reduce traffic congestion on the road during peak hours. “NOT ACCEPTABLE,” said the EMB in bold letters. The EMB also said that the two promoters presented two different traffic studies without the signature of external experts. Another, “NOT ACCEPTABLE,” said the EMB.
As for the sewage treatment facility, the EMB said that it does not include phosphate removal and disinfection in the treatment process. There is also no treatment process for excess mud. XU said it has a wastewater treatment facility at its Center for Industrial Technology campus in Manresa, without providing “proof of its existence and even photos.”
The EMB also found that the detention tanks that receive the discharge of septic tank effluent seep into the groundwater aquifers, contrary to what is prohibited by the Clean Water Act. “NOT ACCEPTED.”
The proponents submitted a Rapid Assessment of Flora and Fauna that was not signed by the experts conducting the study.
On the issue of flooding, proponents claim that this will only address flooding concerns within the development site. Except for the boundaries of the project, they will leave that to the Local Government Unit. But the EMB argued: “If the issue is not addressed, the residents of Balung will suffer serious consequences as a result of the said proposed development.” The EMB noted that the proponents do not have any data on how many households are in flood prone areas. It is unbelievable that XU did not reach out to these dissidents, most of whom were poor in the town.
Perhaps the most surprising part of the EMB review is the rival group COPTAC (Concerned Parents, Teachers, Alumni, and Community). The EMB said that XU and CLI “have no response to this issue.” We have said before that XU holds dialogues where opposing views are not allowed. The XU leadership was invited by COPTAC for dialogues, which they snubbed. That is the new meaning of “man and woman for others.”
The EMB concluded, “Failure to comply will force this Office to deny your Environmental Compliance Certification.” Reynaldo S. Digamo signed in his capacity as EMB-10 Regional Director. This is addressed to Lennie K. Ong, treasurer of Xavier University.
Xavier-Ateneo, what do you teach its students about the rule of law?
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