Groups hold protest parade vs Manila Bay reclamation projects
MANILA, Philippines – Around 200 members of pro-environment groups staged a lantern parade around Baclaran Church in Parañaque City to dramatize their opposition to reclamation projects in Manila Bay during the Global Day for Climate Action on Saturday.
The protesters, members of the Defend Manila Bay Network and People’s Network for the Integrity of Coastal Habitats and Ecosystems (People’s NICHE), criticized the government’s changing stand on reclamation projects in the coastal areas of Manila.
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), one of the groups that make up Defend Manila Bay Network, said it is worried over the government’s change of tune on the “destructive activities” in the coastal areas of Pasay City.
“We are concerned about this development because, since August, when the suspension of all (…) reclamation projects in Manila Bay was declared, we have observed that there is a potential for these decisions to be gradually reversed,” Kalikasan PNE National Coordinator Jon Bonifacio said in Filipino and English.
Bonifacio was referring to the recent decision of the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) to approve the resumption of the two reclamation projects.
The projects were given the greenlight in November despite the order from President Marcos in August to suspend reclamation projects in Manila Bay.
“In our understanding, the cumulative impact assessment of the DENR [Department of Environment and Natural Resources] is not yet finished. There are still many things that need to be done to ensure that such decisions are correct,” he told Inquirer.net.
In November, the DENR said that its cumulative assessment of reclamation projects in Manila Bay could be finished within a year.
A few days later, however, the DENR confirmed that the two reclamation projects were able to pass their compliance review, prompting the PRA to approve the projects’ resumption.
The PRA, in a statement on the projects’ status, emphasized that the reclamation projects’ “permission to proceed is contingent on the results of the ongoing cumulative impact assessment being conducted by DENR.”
“We are strongly demanding for clarity when it comes to the suspension of reclamation projects, and of course, commitment to it,” Bonifacio said, pertaining to the lack of a tangible document to implement the President’s suspension order on reclamation projects in Manila.
“We remain firm in our stance that all reclamation projects in Manila Bay pose a threat to the marine ecosystem and the livelihood of fisherfolk. We maintain the position that all such projects should be unequivocally terminated,” Defend Manila Bay Network said in its statement.
Meanwhile, the PRA noted that it “acknowledges the potential impact of the resumption of the two projects in Pasay City.”
“We are committed to fostering open and constructive dialogue with all affected parties,” the PRA said in a statement.