Dumaguete bishop: Reclamation project will create ‘underwater cemetery’

Dumaguete bishop: Reclamation project will create ‘underwater cemetery’

Bishop Julito Cortes of Dumaguete speaks during an online forum organized by the UST Centre for the Conservation of Cultural Property and Environment in the Tropics on Aug. 17, 2021. SCREENSHOT/USTGS-CCCPET

By Ryan Sorote

August 19, 2021

Dumaguete City

Bishop Julito Cortes of Dumaguete has warned that an “underwater cemetery” will replace the city’s vibrant coastal ecosystem if the P23-billion reclamation project pushes through.

He said the offshore reclamation will directly affect “174 hectares of marine life that host seagrass, coral reefs, habitats of various species.”

“Reclaiming 174 hectares of this littoral zone will logically create 174 hectares of underwater cemeteries,” Cortes said,

He made the statement on Tuesday in an online forum organized by the UST Centre for the Conservation of Cultural Property and Environment in the Tropics.

The bishop said that the “so-called Smart city” will inevitably “pollute” the surrounding environment caused by human activities in the reclamation island.

He said even if the intention of the project promotes “economic exchange and profit,” he insists that it would lead to an “ecological crisis.”

“The delicate littoral ecosystem off the coast of Dumaguete City, is a common good that cannot be adequately safeguarded or promoted by market forces,” said Cortes, who also chairs the Episcopal Commission on Cultural Heritage of the Church.

The prelate reiterated that as “stewards” it is not enough to be aware of environmental issues and ecological concerns but to be “role models” of “ecological spirituality” rooted in moral principle.

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