More than 50 families in a barangay in San Fernando, Camarines Sur, are afraid of losing their homes and livelihoods due to the coastal highway tourism being built as part of the government’s “Build, Build, Build” project.
A typhoon damaged the boat of fisherman Romulo Sibulo of Barangay Cotmo in San Fernando last year. The barangay faces the Ragay Gulf, so the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Camarines Sur is building a seawall here and along the trails of the Pasacao-Balatan Tourism Coastal Highway.
He said the more than 40 kilometers of roads would bring opportunities, but not for small-scale fishermen like Sibulo.
“Unang-una ho ‘yung daungan namin, malaking problema sa amin sa daungan, nakikita niyo ang sitwasyon dito talagang wala na lalong lalo ‘pag may kalamidad. Saan namin ilalagay mga bangka namin? Wala naman kaming ibang hanapbuhay,” he said.
Most families could be affected in Barangay Cotmo once the construction of the highway section begins there.
But the mayor insisted that the local government owns the lots of possible road access so only aid and relocation can be given to those affected. The capitol will pay only those with land titles.
50 families could be affected by highway construction in CamSur
“Province ang nagbabayad base sa assessment ng provincial assessor, but the problem lies when the lot is owned by the province or owned by the munisipyo. Barangay site owned by the munisipyo ang lote, so walang babayaran ang gobyerno kung dadaan o gagamitin ng gobyerno ang lote,” explained San Fernando Mayor Fermin Mabulo.
Work on the nearly P15-billion project has now come to a halt after residents barricaded themselves on Monday.
Some agencies’ multi-year and convergence project is part of the “Build, Build, Build” project, but it was not funded by the government this year due to the alleged change of leadership in Congress in October 2020.
“Unfortunately for the year 2021 wala po itong release, ang on-going project natin d’yan ay 2020. Mayroon kaming proposal d’yan (sa 2021 national budget) pero na-slash po, pino-propose na natin ito sa 2022, so every year po,” said Virgilio Eduarte, regional director of DPWH Bicol.