BFAR urged to execute Supreme Court Mandamus, reject Bulacan airport project

BFAR urged to execute Supreme Court Mandamus, reject Bulacan airport project

Manila, Philippines – Being one of the defendant-government agencies of the 2008 Supreme Court’s (SC) continuing mandamus to clean-up, rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is compelled to carry out the highest SC’s order, by rejecting the reclamation projects in Manila Bay, according to a group of small fisherfolk.

Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA), a national fisherfolk group, said the BFAR was tasked by the Supreme Court to “revitalize the marine life in Manila Bay and restock its waters with indigenous fish and other aquatic animals”.

The fisherfolk group was demanding the BFAR to particularly oppose the New Manila International Airport, also known as the Bulacan Aerotropolis, a 2,500-hectare reclamation project of the San Miguel Corp. (SMC) that will be located in Bulakan, Bulacan, which according to PAMALAKAYA, would render displacement of not less than 700 fishing and coastal families in the said town, and would result to environmental destruction of marine and aquatic habitats in the northeastern part of Manila Bay.

“The BFAR is politically, legally, and morally obliged to protect Manila Bay’s marine biodiversity and ecology against any destructive types of activities, especially reclamation which is long proven to be disastrous not only to the environment, but also to the socio-economic rights of the fisherfolk. BFAR should carry out at any cost the SC order by issuing a public statement rejecting reclamation, or an administrative order strengthening the protection of marine conservation areas against reclamation in Manila Bay,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.

PAMALAKAYA said the BFAR has an existing conservation area for sardines in various parts of Manila Bay, which also lies the concentration of fish larvae, phytoplankton, nitrate, nitrite, phosphate, and silicate that all play significant role to the marine ecosystem. Aside from BFAR, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which is the lead agency tasked to uphold the SC Mandamus, has an existing 25-hectare fishing reservation areas across barangay Taliptip, in Bulakan town, a coastal community that will be mainly affected by the international airport.

Aside from the conservation areas, PAMALAKAYA fears that reclamation in Bulacan might bring scarcity of domestic fish supply as the province accounts for 41 million metric tons of aquatic and marine products every year, primarily milkfish (bangus) and prawn.

“There is more than enough reason for the BFAR to oppose this one of the biggest reclamation projects to hit the precious and historic Manila Bay. They should strongly defy this plan the blatant conversion of Manila Bay from traditional fishing use into a commercial and business establishment hub,” ended Hicap. ###

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