Cebu archbishop backs Dumaguete diocese stand vs reclamation project
Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu. PHOTO BY RUEL TENERIFE
By Ryan Sorote
August 29, 2021
Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu defended the stand of the Diocese of Dumaguete against a controversial mega reclamation project.
In a statement Saturday, he echoed the concerns of the diocese on the proposed 174-hectare reclamation project in Dumaguete City.
The church, according to him, is not against development as it is, “but there are parameters that we have to consider and work within too”.
“Development should have a human face… one that adheres to and primarily attends to the general welfare of the people first and foremost before anything else,” Palma said.
“Development cannot be undertaken to cater and benefit only a few. In fact, development should even be the price and pride of humanity, when their rights, dignity and wellness are respected and promoted,” he said.
The archbishop made the call in “solidarity” with Bishop Julito Cortes, whose diocese is one of Cebu’s suffragans.
“Though unpopular to some,” Palma said the diocese made a “gallant stand” against the P23 billion project after “prudent discernment”.
The statement was also released before he left for Hungary to attend the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) yesterday evening.
Cortes expressed his “profound gratitude” to Palma for supporting their stand against the “Smart City”.
The Order of Carmelites in the Philippines (O. Carm.) also expressed its “deafening opposition” to the project.
Fr. Christian Buenafe, O. Carm., convener and International Commissioner of the Justice, Peace, Integrity of Creation – Social Action Commission, said that the project robs future generations of Dumagueteños of what is to be theirs.
Citing scientific studies and experts, he said the project would affect several marine protected areas and the tourism of Negros Oriental and the Central Visayas area.
“With this, we feel that it is our responsibility as Catholic Christians to ensure that these treasures would be protected for the future generations,” Buenafe said.
Buenafe said that they are one with the diocese against the “selfish motives of politicians and businessmen lobbying the project.”
“Development is good, but we pray that with this, we will not be destroying the future of our city who will now be denied of the fruits of the rich biodiverse marine life of the city’s coastline- the young Dumagueteños,” he said.
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