[Philstar] Ex-solon asks Cayetano to probe SMC’s Bulacan airport project

Ex-solon asks Cayetano to probe SMC’s Bulacan airport project
Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) – October 8, 2019 – 2:20pm

MANILA, Philippines — Former Rep. Fernando Hicap (Anakpawis party-list) on Tuesday asked House Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano to conduct a congressional inquiry on San Miguel Corp.’s P700 billion Bulacan airport project, which it said had adverse environmental and socio-economic impacts.

“We demand House Speaker Cayetano to look into the loopholes of Mr. Ramon Ang’s international airport project in Manila Bay that would threaten its biodiversity and… the socioeconomic rights of thousands of its coastal population,” Hicap said.

The New Manila International Airport will stand on the “Bulacan Aerotropolis,” a sprawling 2,500-hectare reclamation project to be constructed in the coastal town of Bulakan, Bulacan.

However, the construction of the aerotropolis — meaning a city designed around an airport — could worsen flooding in Bulakan and nearby towns in the province as well as the northern part of Metro Manila, according to fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas or Pamalakaya.

Hicap said hundreds of thousands of Bulakenyos who are “usual victims of flooding due to typhoons and monsoon rains” could experience worse. Pamalakaya cited hazard and vulnerability maps by the Bulacan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, as well as studies from other experts.

Pamalakaya Vice Chairman for Luzon Bobby Roldan said more than 600 mangrove trees had been cleared in Barangay Taliptip in Bulakan, where the airport would be built.

“Reclaimed areas are highly vulnerable to storm surges, and liquefaction during earthquakes; and they increase flood risks inland. This is because such developments destroy the mangrove environment that mitigate the risks of the aforementioned geohazards,” the Advocates of Science and Technology for the People or Agham said in a release.

Agham in July called on Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to revoke the project’s environmental compliance certificate or ECC and to declare Manila Bay a “no-reclamation zone.”

Hicap, also the national chairperson of Pamalakaya, said that the project would additionally displace more than 700 fishing and coastal families relying on Manila Bay.

“Aside from the flooding and displacement, the congressional probe should cover the lack of ECC of the project and how it was approved without undergoing through the proper process,” Hicap said.

The former congressman also said SMC is manufacturing public support using “press releases and a video presentation of computer-aided designs,” but has not published any feasibility studies.

DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade and SMC President and COO Ramon Ang formally signed in September the concession agreement for the NMIA project.

The agreement, which covers a 50-year concession period, authorized SMC to undertake the financing, design, construction, supply, completion, testing, commissioning, and operation and maintenance of the new airport.

The construction of the NMIA will start by the end of 2019 and airport operations are targeted to begin in four to six years, according to a September release.

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