By Maya M. Padillo, Correspondent 

AN APPEAL for a temporary restraining order against the Samal-Davao bridge project has been elevated to the Supreme Court, according to a lawyer of the affected property owners who filed the case.   

The nature of the petition is continuing mandamus and prohibition, Ramon Edison C. Batacan, one of the legal counsels of the Rodriguez family told BusinessWorld.  

A continuing mandamus order in environment-related cases will compel a government agency or officer to perform specific duties in line with environmental laws and regulations. It is also a legal remedy recognizing that there is no other speedy and adequate option in the ordinary course of law.  

Mr. Batacan explained that the case, filed before the High Court on March 16, asserts that the Department of Public Works and Highways committed brazen violations of the law to the utter prejudice of the environment and the rule of law.”  

He said the bridge, which will connect Samal Island to the Mindanao mainland through Davao City, disregards the protected area status of the Samal Island Mangrove Swamp Forest Reserve.   

The project, he said, has been proceeding without the necessary environmental clearances and permits.   

The manifest disregard for the law undercuts the very foundation of our environmental laws and the EIA (environmental impact assessment) process, especially the legal safeguards instituted to preserve the countrys protected areas, Mr. Batacan said.  

He added that the Rodriguez family has exhausted all appeals to the governments executive branch.  

The Rodriguez family asked the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. last year to intervene in the Samal-Davao bridge project by ordering a reassessment of the design.  

Mr. Marcos led the groundbreaking ceremony for the project on Oct. 27, last year.  

The family is appealing for the realignment of the project’s landing site in Samal to protect the marine life in the area, which includes a reef in between Paradise Island Park and Beach Resort and Costa Marina Beach Resort, both owned by the family.    

Construction is ongoing for the facility in Samal that will house workers of China Road and Bridge Corp., a unit of China Communications Construction Co., that will build the bridge is ongoing.  

The China-funded P23-billion bridge, spanning 3.98 kilometers with four lanes, is seen to serve at least 25,000 vehicles daily. It is targeted for completion by 2027.  

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Davao Regional Executive Director Bagani Fidel A. Evasco, in a statement on Wednesday, confirmed the pending case but did not give further comment. 

He said the original petition was filed before the Court of Appeals and dismissed earlier this year.” 

The DENR office is yet to receive an order from the (Supreme) Court. Pursuant to the sub judice rule, we cannot speak further on the issue.