Mayor Aguilar to Sen. Villar: Reclamation ain’t so bad, sis
MANILA, Philippines – A week after his sister, Senator Cynthia Villar, launched a congressional inquiry into reclamation projects on Manila Bay, Las Piñas City Mayor Vergel Aguilar disputed her grim warnings about their environmental impact.
In a statement earlier this week, Aguilar said the city would actually preserve the 175-hectare Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA) on the bay, contrary to Villar’s pronouncements that a planned reclamation project nearby would destroy it.
Since 2012, Villar has been citing in a court petition against the project that the ecotourism area would be endangered by a 635-hectare, P14-billion project approved by the Las Piñas and Parañaque city governments, with Alltech Contractors Inc. as the developer.
After the Court of Appeals dismissed Villar’s petition last year, the senator raised the issue in the Supreme Court.
On Feb. 11, Villar, as chair of the Senate committee on government corporations and public enterprises, opened a Senate inquiry into the projects of the Philippine Reclamation Authority. She mainly questioned the PRA’s National Reclamation Plan which she said listed over 100 projects, 38 of which cover 26,234 hectares on Manila Bay, including the Alltech project.
In a statement, Villar reiterated her position that the reclamation would affect the LPPCHEA, “a protected area … listed as one of the world’s most important wetlands.”
But Aguilar insisted that LPPCHEA, already in a “deteriorated state,” would not be part of the project area and would in fact be “preserved, improved and developed as an ecotourism site.”
The mayor also pointed out that Alltech had been issued an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the project.
“I don’t know why Senator Villar, who happens to be my sister, is opposing the project when in fact, it could spur economic development and provide employment for thousands of residents. As a mayor, I won’t allow the project to jeopardize the welfare and safety of my constituents, more so to cause flooding and damage the environment,” he said.
But Aguilar said there was no final plan yet and that it would still be subject to the city government’s approval in consultation with various sectors.
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