Bacoor local exec risks violating SC mandamus, if reclamation pushes through
Bacoor City, Cavite – The local government unit (LGU) of Bacoor City in the province of Cavite will violate the Supreme Court mandamus to “clean up, rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay, and restore and maintain its waters” if it pushes through with the 320-hectare Bacoor Reclamation and Development Project and approve the 100-hectare Diamond Reclamation Development Project. Moreover, it would be against the related issuances such as President Rodrigo Duterte’s Administrative Order No. 16 expediting the rehabilitation of Manila Bay, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) Manila Bay Clean Up Program. These were according to the the national fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA).
Its municipal chapter, the Alyansa ng mga Magdaragat sa Bacoor Bay, on Thursday held a dialogue with Bacoor Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla together with its proponent partner, the Frabelle Fishing Corp., to reassert their community and fishing rights and reiterate their strong opposition against the reclamation projects that would entail displacement of not less than 700 fishing families in the coastal town.
PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson Fernando Hicap, who was present at the dialogue, told the Bacoor LGU and the proponent that their plan to reclaim the fishing waters of Manila Bay, via dumping and filling activities, would lead to aquatic pollution which is violative of the Republic Act 8550 or Fisheries Code of 1998, and RA 10654 Fisheries Code Amendments.
“This project is not just violative of the Supreme Court mandamus, but detrimental to the Duterte government’s promise to rehabilitate Manila Bay. If this project pushes through, it means that all actions of the DENR, DILG and other agencies early this year, were all just an act. This will be a blackeye for the administration and an added reason for the people to detest the government,” Hicap said.
He added that this will also undermine the Manila Bay Clean Up Program being led by DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu. The program was based on the Operational Plan for the Manila Bay Coastal Strategy (OPMBCS) pursuant to the agency’s mandate, the 1987 Executive Order No. 192. The plan’s main goals included improvement of water quality and protection of shoreline features. He warned that the Bacoor chief executive should prepare her team for a ton of legal headache.
“Magkaiba ang mayor ng Bacoor sa mayor ng Manila, na hindi raw priority ang reclamation. Dito, masigasig ang pagtutulak, parang may hinahabol. Kahit na kontra ito sa programa at patakaran ng gubyerno,” the fisherfolk added.
Hicap, who was a former representative for Anakpawis Party-list, also shared that the proposal to make Manila Bay as a reclamation-free zone is already gaining ground in congress. In addition to the House Bill 257 filed by lawmakers under the Makabayan Coalition, House Deputy Speaker Rose Marie “Baby” J. Arenas has also filed her House Bill 3169 entitled “An Act Declaring Manila Bay as Heritage Asset Free From Any and All Forms of Further Reclamation and Providing Penalties Therefore.” The bill seeks to declare Manila Bay, in its entirety, not only a national historical landmark but a heritage site that is protected and fully owned by the government “with management policies based on preservation of an ecosystem and rights-based, people-centered development framework.”
Directly affected, Joel Falcis, a local fisherman in Bacoor and member of PAMALAKAYA’s municipal chapter, said it is inhumane to uproot the lives of thousands of fisherfolk and coastal settlers in their community where they grew up in.
“Sa kagaya naming mangingisda na lumaki sa dagat, wala kaming ibang alam na pagkakakitaan kundi ang pangingisda. Kung ipapatapon kami sa malalayong relocation site na hindi tabing-dagat, mamamatay kami,” said Falcis.