CA affirms validity of Manila Bay reclamation project anew

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The Court of Appeals. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — The Court of Appeals (CA) has denied anew the bid of Senator Cynthia Villar to stop the implementation of the P14-billion reclamation project in Manila Bay.

In a four-page ruling dated Aug. 14, the CA Third Division denied the motion for reconsideration that Villar filed last May 14 on the court’s April 26 ruling that dismissed for lack of merit and for being premature her petition to stop the implementation of the 635-hectare reclamation project in Manila Bay.

The latest CA ruling penned by Associate Justice Apolinario Bruselas Jr. said the senator did not raise new arguments in her petition to justify a change in the court’s earlier ruling.

“After a careful assessment…, we find the same to be a rehash of the issues and arguments raised in the petition and which have already been passed upon in our decision,” the court division said.

In 2012, Villar asked the Supreme Court to stop the reclamation project to be undertaken by Al Tech Contractors Inc. as this might impede the natural river flow in her city in Las Piñas, destroy the remaining 175-ha mangrove forest and marine habitat in Las Piñas and Parañaque, and cause flooding in many villages. The mangrove and marine habitat is known as the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism area.

The high court granted Villar’s plea, and issued a writ of kalikasan and ordered the CA to conduct further hearings on the case.

A writ of kalikasan would lead to appropriate protection orders and mandate court hearings on the environment and health issues.

But last April 26, the court division said Villar failed to present evidence to back her allegations that the project would cause environmental damage.

In its Aug. 14 ruling, the court division said that discussion of Villar’s reassertions about the project would only “consume (its) valuable court time and the parties’ significant time and resources.”

It reiterated its early ruling that the threat assessment of the project had been made by the respondents “and does not amount at all to any such massive flooding nor to any such destruction” of the critical habitat.

“Thus, given the foregoing circumstances, the Court finds neither legal nor factual bases with which to grant the privilege of the writ of kalikasan,” said the court division, which was concurred into by Associate Justices Rebecca De Guia-Salvador and Samuel Gaerlan.

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