High court urged to stop P14-B Manila Bay reclamation project
MANILA, Philippines—Various organizations of fisherfolk, urban poor, church, environmental and health organizations joined the call for the Supreme Court to stop the P14-billion reclamation project in Manila Bay.
In their 14-page motion to intervene, they asked the high court to allow them to join Las Piñas Congresswoman Cynthia Villar.
Intervenors include the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) represented by Fernando Hicap and Salvador France, Anakpawis and Bayan Muna party list led by Reps. Rafael Mariano and Teodoro Casino respectively, the Koalisyon Kontra Kumbersyon ng Manila Bay (KKK-Manila Bay), the Bacoor-based Alyansa fisherfolk group, Pamalakaya-Bulacan chapter, the Sagip Manila Bay Movement (SMBM), the Save Freedom Island Movement (SFIM), the Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC-Philippines), the Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment, Earth Island Philippines and the Alliance for Stewardship and Authentic Progress (ASAP).
They said the P 14-B Las Piñas-Paranaque reclamation project involving 203.43 hectares of Paranaque coastal territory and 431.71 hectares of the city’s territory is a major threat to the livelihood of small fisherfolk sourcing their subsistence from Manila Bay.
“The source of this collective fear is based on the experience of small fishermen, mussel growers and shell gatherers beginning 2010 upon the completion of R-1 Extension Expressway Project which is now known as Cavite Expressway or Cavitex. Two years after the completion of the solid-based road infrastructure done through massive reclamation of not less than 5,000 hectares of foreshore waters along Bacoor Bay, a dramatic decline in fish capture and aquaculture production took place,” the petitioners said.
They said fishermen have been experiencing reduction of fish catch from an average of 5 kilos to 10 kilos per fishing trip prior to the reclamation and road project to 2 kilos to 3 kilos of average fish catch due to the negative impact of reclamation and road infrastructure project along Bacoor Bay.
They added that the demolition of several hundreds of hectares of mussel farms caused grave economic difficulties to small and medium scale mussel operators in Bacoor. Those who were allowed to operate mussel growing in Bacoor Bay likewise suffered further decline and income loss due to the ecological imbalance created by massive reclamation.
Petitioners added that the massive reclamation affected the movements of water causing flooding in the area.
“The Las Piñas-Paranaque Coastal Bay project is just one of these large-scale reclamation projects. The reclamation projects in Manila Bay alone will engage an across-the-bay reclamation project that would cover 26, 234 hectares of coastal waters— which for movants are an open invitation to economic displacement and environmental catastrophe,” the motion for intervention stated.
Villar, in her petition asked the Supreme Court to stop a 635-hectare reclamation project in Manila Bay which she said may impede the natural river flow in her city, destroy the remaining 175 hectare mangrove forest and marine habitat in Las Piñas and Paranaque and cause flooding in many barangays.
The firm—All Tech Contractors Incorporated – is pursuing the reclamation of 635 hectare of foreshore areas in Manila Bay which is beside the 175-hectare protected mangroves, lagoons and ponds known as Las Piñas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area.
Included in her petition are the signatures of 315,849 residents in their city and findings of a hydrological services consultant she tapped in support of her petition.
She said the project would cause massive flooding in 65 coastal barangays since it will impede natural flow of water to the bay.
She added that the project would destroy one of Metro Manila’s last nature reserves and bird sanctuaries—the Las Piñas-Parañaque Coastal Lagoon or the 175-hectare of Salt marshes, tidal areas and three mangrove-clad islands that serve as home or resting spot for dozens of bird species, including the globally threatened Philippine duck and Chinese egret.
In 2007, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Executive Order No. 1412 declaring the coastal lagoon as the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area and banning activities that would impede its ecologically vital role as a bird sanctuary.
However, the high court, during its summer session did not stop the reclamation project but only issued an order requiring the government to comment on Villar’s petition.
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