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Sibs Cynthia and Nene clash anew over bay reclamation

/ 11:09 PM October 18, 2013

VILLAR. Photo by RICHARD A. REYES

Two siblings in politics—Sen. Cynthia Villar and her brother Las Pinas Mayor Vergel “Nene” Aguilar—are again in a clash over reclamation projects on Manila Bay.

“I don’t know why Sen. Cynthia Villar, who happens to be  my sister, is opposing the development,” Aguilar said Thursday as he expressed confidence that a P14-billion project that will redefine the Las Piñas coastline and that of neighboring Paranaque City will push through.

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Aguilar issued the statement a day after his sister asked colleagues in the Senate to review the powers given to the Philippine Reclamation Authority, which she said was responsible in approving “environmentally unsound and potentially hazardous” reclamation projects.

He stressed that the plan to extend and develop the bay strip running from Las Piñas to Parañaque went through a series of consultations and was supported by scientific research conducted by reputable organizations such as the Danish Hydrological Institute, DCCD Engineering Corp. and Surbana (the company behind the reclamation work in Singapore’s Marina Bay).

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AGUILAR. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

According to Aguilar, these outfits have maintained that reclamation would not cause massive environmental damage and flooding, contrary to fears raised by critics led by his sister.

The PRA, through its website, maintains that “well-designed and properly executed” reclamation projects don’t cause flooding. “In fact, these projects can prevent it by providing added protection such as sea barriers to mitigate the effects of rising sea levels due to global warming. To prevent flooding on the main land, relevant drainage outfalls and rivers are of vital concern for any reclamation activity,” it said.

The Court of Appeals recently ruled against Villar’s petition to stop the 635-hectare project, which will be done by All Tech Contractors.

“I am convinced that the All Tech Coastal Bay Project is not detrimental to the environment and would bring in the needed economic development in terms of livelihood and will provide 20,000 jobs for the residents,” Aguilar said, adding that the revenues could be spent on improved local infrastructure, school buildings, hospitals, scholarships, etc.

Villar started a legal challenge to the project early last year by filing a petition asking the Supreme Court to have it stopped. The high court remanded the case to the Court of Appeals (CA), which said the petition failed to prove that the project would trigger massive environmental damage.

Another proposed reclamation project off the cities of Pasay and Parañaque appeared to be gaining ground, when both of their councils recently endorsed an offer from SM Land Inc. to reclaim a total of 600 hectares of Manila Bay.

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TAGS: Las Piñas, mayor vergel aguilar, Metro, reclamation project, Sen. Cynthia Villar
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