THE NATIONAL Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), an advisory body to the government among other functions, warned proponents of the reclamation project for a “smart city” district in Dumaguete City against forging ahead without full transparency and public consultations.  

In a statement on Thursday, the agency under the Department of Science and Technology stressed the history of Dumaguete as a pioneering site for marine resource protection.   

“The proposed massive reclamation project to build a ‘smart city’ will negatively impact these biodiversity-rich MPAs (marine protected areas) directly or indirectly and will disturb the vertical connectivity between the shore/shallow to deeper species assemblage,” NAST said.   

“It is incumbent on the proponents of the project to reveal to the public the technical, legal, and due diligence reviews done on the sociology, ecology, and the economics of the project, and for the government to hold public consultations/fora for the open discussion/scrutiny, verification, and validation of the project documents,” it said.    

Last week, the Board of Trustees of Siliman University, a private institution based in the city, issued a statement reiterating the institution’s position against the project being pushed by the local government.  

Among the trustees is National Scientist Angel C. Alcala, known for his work on the protection of marine ecosystems.  

“For the past 40 years and up to the present, Silliman has been a leading institution in marine conservation in the Philippines. Studies made by Silliman scientists have determined that reclamation projects, such as the one being currently proposed by the City Government of Dumaguete, will cause damage and disruption of marine ecosystems not only in Dumaguete City, but also in adjoining areas,” the board said.  

“There are other scientific, technical, social, economic and ecological reasons that do not support the proposed reclamation project,” it said. — MSJ