PALM SUNDAY: Catholics worldwide commemorate the first day of Holy Week with Palm Sunday. This sacred occasion also presents an opportunity for individuals like Tessie Dabin, 56, from Babatngon, Leyte to sell palm fronds to the faithful at P25 each.

In Borongan City

TACLOBAN CITY – Residents of Borongan City have voiced their opposition to a seawall project being implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) along the beach area of their village.

Residents and officials of Barangay Lalawigan, a coastal village, expressed concern that the construction of the seawall along the two-kilometer stretch of the beach area is damaging the reef line and disrupting the beach reef system.

“We do not want our corals to be destroyed, nor our coastline to be damaged,” said village chairman Joel Capones.

“If the project is truly for Lalawigan, they should elevate it. They should use government-owned land instead of destroying the corals and coastline. Even the collection of sand is prohibited, yet they are destroying the corals, which are habitats for shells and fish, where they lay their eggs,” he said.

“Dynamite fishing, which was previously banned, was the primary cause of coral destruction, and now, it’s the backhoe damaging the corals, which should not be happening,” the village leader added.

On March 15, members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Borongan held a consultative session with officials from Lalawigan and Divinubo Island, along with representatives from the regional office of the DPWH as concerned citizens expressed their dismay over the project’s negative impact on the environment, particularly the marine ecosystem and thriving tourism industry.

“Personally, I am disgusted because my husband is a fisherman, and they will no longer be able to dock their boats. What will happen to their livelihood if a seawall is constructed? Their boats will be stranded ashore. They won’t be able to fish because they won’t have a place to dock their boats. We are disgusted by the idea of a seawall,” said Letecia Tabo, whose husband’s livelihood is at risk due to the project.

According to Tabo, the seawall would obstruct the Lalawigan docking area, severely affecting the residents’ common livelihood.

Residents of Divinubo Island also use the Lalawigan beach as their docking area when visiting the city for business and other transactions.

In response to the issue, City Information Officer Rupert Ambil led an ocular inspection of the Lalawigan beach.

Ambil emphasized that the implementing agency should be held accountable for the project’s impact on the reef line and coral destruction.

He stated that the city government under Mayor Jose Ivan Dayan Agda is committed to halting any project that poses serious threats to the environment.

The city government has called for the realignment of the project to ensure it does not harm the reef system, which serves as a sanctuary for diverse fish species, upon which village residents rely for their livelihood.

On March 19, the City Environment and Natural Resources Office submitted a formal report to the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) regarding the extensive extraction of corals at Lalawigan beach for the seawall project, highlighting the looming threats to Lalawigan’s marine biodiversity.

It was revealed that a resolution from the city council has been drafted to temporarily suspend operations at the beach to allow for realignment and proper coordination.