Manila Bay groups opposed new reclamation

Manila, Philippines– Manila Bay based groups led by the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Koalisyon Kontra Kumbersyon ng Manila Bay (KKK-Manila Bay), Sagip Manila Bay Movement (SMBM), Save Freedom Island Movement (SFIM) and Anakpawis partylist on Friday urged President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to stop the reclamation of 300 hectares of coastal areas in Paranaque City by SM Land Incorporated owned by business tycoon Henry Sy.

Speaking in behalf of the opposition groups, Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France said President Aquino should recall the resolution passed by the city council of Paranaque allowing SM Land Inc. to reclaim and develop 300 hectares of coastal shores.

“This reclamation republic in Manila must be stopped to stop the wholesale killing of people’s livelihood and the environment, prevent disasters and other man-made and natural calamities in the near future. If the Aquino administration is sincere in saving and rehabilitating Manila Bay, it should stop corporate reclamation and takeovers in Manila Bay from south to north,” said France.

Pamalakaya learned that on September 26, 2013, the 18 councilors of Paranaque approved Resolution No. 13-066 authorizing Paranaque Mayor Edwin Olivarez to accept the unsolicited proposal of SM Land Inc. to develop another 200 hectares of coastal area in the city. This is in addition to the 100 hectare reclamation project awarded to SM Land Inc. in November 2012.

The proposal of SM for another 200 hectare reclamation project was officially pursued on September 11, 2013 and the city council endorsed the proposal on September 26 or just a matter of 15 days. “Imagine, it only took the 15 days for the councilors of Paranaque to study or consider the economic and environmental implications of large-scale reclamation in project. This is preposterous and something sinister appeared happen without the knowledge of affected citizens and the general public,” the group said.

The 18 councilors said the 300 hectare reclamation project in Paranaque will benefit the people in terms of taxes and employment. They argued that the city government will have its share of reclaimed property measuring 630,000 square meters complete with roadways, drainage, underground conduits for utilities such as water, power and telephone lines. The councilors said the reclamation project is far from the controversial bird sanctuary.

The proponents also dismissed as imaginary the fears raised by opponents that the reclamation project will cause severe flooding in the city. But Pamalakaya insisted that the 300-hectare reclamation project and all other reclamation projects in Manila Bay should be stopped.

Aside from the devastating impacts of large-scale reclamation to livelihood and marine environment, massive flooding, storm surges and extreme exposure to major earthquake, the group said the reclamation projects in Manila Bay was not meant for the need of the people but for the narrow interest of corporate capital and big business. The councilors who endorsed the 300-hectare reclamation project of SM Land Inc. are Rufino Allanigue, Florencia Amurao, Merlie Antipuesto, Ricardo Baes Jr, Maritess de Asis, Joan Villafuerte-Densing, Giovanni Esplana, Vincent Kenneth Favis, Brillante Inciong, Alma Moreno Lacsamana, Jacqueline Mendoza, Viktor Eriko Sotto, Roselle Nava-Tan, Raquel Gabriel-Velasco, Jason Webb, John Ryan Yllana, Liga ng Barangay President Teodoro Virata Jr and SK President Shannin Mae Oliverez.

Meanwhile, Pamalakaya asked Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje not to issue an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) to the city government of Paranaque on its joint venture with SM Land regarding the reclamation of 300 hectares of coastal areas in Manila Bay. The militant group believed that the case of 300 hectare reclamation project in the city is one of the 600 illegal reclamation projects previously identified by the DENR.

On top of the 600 illegal reclamation projects, Pamalakaya noted that the Philippine Reclamation Authority under the National Reclamation Plan is pursuing over 100 reclamation projects all over the country in joint partnership with private reclamation corporations and local government units.

The reclamation projects in Manila Bay include the controversial 675 hectare Las Pinas-Paranaque reclamation project, the 5,000 hectare land reclamationin Sangley Point in Cavite City and the 148 hectare reclamation project in Manila. ##

Source: All Voices

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