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Groups hit issuance of ECC for international airport

/ 05:33 AM July 10, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Environment and fisherfolk groups have raised an alarm over the issuance of an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) to the company that will develop an international airport in Bulacan province, saying the P734-billion project would have adverse ecological and economic impact on communities surrounding Manila Bay.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it had approved last month the ECC of Silvertides Holdings, a contractor of San Miguel Corp., to develop 2,070 hectares in the coastal villages of Bambang and Taliptip in Bulakan town.

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But while the ECC certifies that a proposal would not have significant negative environmental impact, environmental advocates say otherwise, stressing that the planned reclamation would disrupt the natural ecosystems thriving in the northern part of Manila Bay.

Leon Dulce, a convenor of the People’s Network for the Integrity of Coastal Habitats and Ecosystem, said the project site lies at the last remaining expanse of mangrove forests in the bay.

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“This serves as the heart of the whole Manila Bay ecosystem,” he said in an interview on Tuesday.

Affect food security

“If the project continues, it will not only disrupt the biodiversity there, but would also affect the food security considering the catch that we get from Manila Bay,” Dulce added.

While no construction has started yet, more than 600 mangrove trees were cleared from the planned site last year.

Government officials, however, said there was no evidence directly linking the project to the damage.

The proposed reclamation, Dulce said, was also “diametrically opposed” to the ongoing rehabilitation of the Manila Bay which aims to restore the heavily polluted waters to its original ecological integrity.

“If they want a true rehabilitation, there should be a moratorium on all proposed and developing reclamation project until such time that a holistic and ecological assessment is done,” he said.

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Also at stake is the 25-hectare fishing reservation areas established by the DENR across Taliptip’s coastal waters, said fisherfolk group Pamalakaya.

“This means loss of traditional fish species and depletion of fish catch by small fisherfolk in the entire province of Bulacan,” said Bobby Roldan, Pamalakaya’s vice chair for Luzon.

While the construction may provide temporary jobs to people living near the project site, it is an unsustainable solution that would ultimately take away their primary means of livelihood, said Krista Melgarejo, chair of Advocates of Science and Technology for the People Diliman chapter.

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TAGS: Bulacan international airport, DENR, ECC, environmental clearance certificate, San Miguel Corp., Silvertides Holdings
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