Fishers question Manila Bay reclamation projects before DENR

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Fishers question Manila Bay reclamation projects before DENR

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) – November 10, 2019 – 12:14pm

MANILA, Philippines — A fisherfolk federation has filed an official complaint with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources against three reclamation projects in Manila Bay.

They appealed for a comprehensive investigation of the effects these projects would have on the marine environment and on  fisherfolk communities, the publication of the Environment Impact Statements corresponding to the issued Environmental Compliance Certificates, and a cease-and-desist order for the projects that violate the goals of “genuine rehabilitation.” 

An EIS is a document that project proponents prepare and submit to the Environmental Management Bureau, the agency that issues ECCs.

Pamalakaya said earlier this week that it opposes the reclamation of a fish pond in Bacoor City.

“We see it as the start of the 420-hectare Bacoor Reclamation and Development Project being pushed by Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla and in contradiction with the DENR’s Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program,” the formal complaint said. 

They cited the Supreme Court ruling directing numerous departments to ensure the bay would be “fit for human recreation” and the development of fishery resources, saying the project was in direct violation of these goals.

The federation also called the project dubious “as no information is disclosed to the public and no public consultation nor announcement was conducted.”

“Moreover, in case it is a government project, no signage of project details are installed, and if it is a private activity, there was also no signage for a building permit,” they said. 

Under the directive of the Duterte administration, the DENR has been in full swing in its initiative to fast-track the rehabilitation of Manila Bay. Some 300,000 families are targeted for relocation as a result of the rehabilitation projects. 

The DILG has also issued a directive to 178 local government units and 5,714 barangays along the Manila Bay Watershed Area to conduct their own clean-up projects in the area. The department in May also issued 1,000 barangay executives show-cause orders to explain why rehabilitation initiatives in their barangays have not yet been taken. 

Pamalakaya also panned the proposals for the Sangley Airport in Cavite City and construction of a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator “city” in Kawit, saying that these would harm the surrounding marine environment. 

Kawit Mayor Angelo Emilio Aguinaldo in September formally wrote the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. a notice of intent to set up a POGO hub with private sector partners.

The administration’s vigor towards the reclamation of Manila Bay came as a result of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Administrative Order No. 16, which mandated the creation of the Manila Bay task force.

“The convergence of national government agencies and LGUs (local government units) in the Manila Bay Region, and their active participation, are necessary to facilitate the robust and integrated implementation of all rehabilitation and restoration efforts at the Manila Bay,” the order read. 

DENR has yet to respond to Philstar.com‘s  request for comment as of this post.