Former City Mayor Baba Yap, who is now the administrator of Tagbilaran City Hall, has defended the controversial P12-billion reclamation project that is being proposed by a private company led by Lite Shipping and a Manila-based business magnate.
Speaking to DYTR radio host Chandymar Araneta Batoy on Friday, November 17, 2023, Yap said the reclamation project would bring economic benefits to the city, such as creating 40,000 to 50,000 jobs, generating tax revenues, and attracting more investments.
He bared the project would not affect the mangroves, the houses on the mainland, or the marine life, as the artificial islands would be meters away from the shore.
Yap pointed out the city has limited land area for development, and that the reclamation project was an unsolicited proposal from the private company, which meant that the city would not incur any cost.
He said incumbent City Mayor Jane Cajes-Yap (his wife), City Vice Mayor Adam Relson Jala, and the City Council had insisted on conducting public consultations before approving the project, and that he hoped for a healthy discussion with the stakeholders and the public.
The reclamation project, which aims to create artificial islands off the coast of Tagbilaran City, has been met with opposition from some sectors, including City Councilor Atoy Torralba, who criticized the bidding process and the environmental impact of the project.
Yap said Torralba had apologized for using the term “lipat lipat” (deception scheme) to describe the bidding process, and that the city government had been transparent about the project since the beginning.
“In fact, kita, we have been transparent sa mga tawo ever since our administration ug karon pud ni Mayor Jane Yap. Dili gyud ta anang lipat lipat, anang mga tago tago. Especially kaning sa Reclamation, dako dako gyud ni siyang nga Proyekto gyud, but atoa lang gihapon ni ge timbang timbang sir Chan tungod kay ang economic side man pud ang atoang ge tan.aw …. dili man ta mga expert pud with regards sa Environment nga di ta ka tubag kong naa ba ang marine life affected, ug unsay mga affected ana,” the former Tagbilaran said during the interview.
Baba said he was happy that there were people who had different opinions on the project, as it would help them weigh the pros and cons.
He said that reclamation projects had been successful in other places, not only in the Philippines, but worldwide, and that they should also consider the economic side of the issue.
Baba Yap explained the city needed to upgrade and venture to other investors, as they had 10,000 graduates every year in the entire province of Bohol, and that they could not offer that many jobs in the existing business establishments.
The former mayor admitted they did not have feasibility studies yet, and that they would listen and weigh the proposal carefully.
He said that some people were using politics and spreading false information about the project, but that “they would never do anything without public consultation.”
Denies 2025 Plans
During the radio interview, Yap has denied rumors that he has political ambitions to run for governor in 2025.
He said he is purely a basketball player now, and that he has no political aspirations.
He commented on the pictures of him and Congresswoman Alexie Tutor that appeared on social media, and denied that they had any political tandem.
Baba said they have always been close, and that they just attended the same events, such as the birthday of Mayor Tamar Olaivar in Candijay.
He said that sometimes their pictures were used for politics.
According to him, some people made tarpaulins that marked “Baba 2025 Bohol” and placed them in other towns, but these were not from his office.
He disclosed he had asked people to stop putting tarpaulins, as they could cause confusion, reiterating that he has no political ambitions.
“Siguro nag libog ta, sir Chan, kay ako sa pagka karon, purely basketball player raman gyud ko ron. Mao na usahay, ang mga pictures lang nga murag ma sakyan sakyan lang pud sa mga tawo,” Baba said.
“Naa poy uban nga nag himo himo ug mga tarpolin nga gipamutang nga Baba 2025 Bohol sa ubang mga lungsod. So, ato pung ge discourage na. Atong gihangyu pud to na ipaundang na ang pag pamutang sa tarpaulins kay usahay adto ra ba gyud nila ibutang sa mga Police Stations dapit. . . Sir Chan, usahay kay naay mo message nako ug ako ba daw ga butang. Moingon ko nga palihog ko ug pa tang-tang lang sa tarpaulins,” he added.