Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes leading the penitential walk and prayer rally against the proposed 174-hectare reclamation project off the shores of the city. | CONTRIBUTED

Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes reiterated his stern opposition against the proposed P23-billion reclamation project in the city while expressing his disappointment on a local paper’s insinuation that he now supports the project after a meeting with Mayor Felipe Remollo.

In a statement, the prelate described the report as “misleading and confusing” after his meeting with the city mayor was taken out of context and made it appear that they have left the matter to the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) to approve or junk the project.

“People’s acceptance of the (reclamation) project should be solicited before even going to the PRA,” the statement said, Thursday, Oct. 21.

Cortes, in a recent sermon, said that during his meeting with Remollo, the mayor asked the church to stay neutral on the controversial project. But the prelate insisted that the Church could not remain neutral on such an issue, debunking the misleading article.

“There’s a need to take a side if there’s irregularity,” he said in Bisaya.

The bishop also “denounced” as “illegal” and “deceitful” the same newspaper’s publication of an unsigned open letter, bearing the letterhead of the diocese, claiming to be the sentiments of a “bigger group of Catholic parishioners” of the diocese.

“The said article provided the occasion to further spread the lies and deceit of the open letter. By publishing the content of the spurious letter without the name of the person responsible for writing it, the publisher is deemed primarily liable for the harm that it caused and could further cause,” the statement reads.

“We call on media practitioners to be more responsible, accurate and truthful in their reporting and, thereby, not become purveyors of fake news or untruths.”

In a statement, Ely Dejaresco, publisher and editor of the Negros Chronicle, denied allegations that the publication slanted the bishop’s stand on the reclamation project.

Dejaresco said the article was in response to an earlier article published on the bishop’s “morality” stand on the issue. Ryan Sorote