[Philstar] Listen to displacement fears over airport project, Bulakan mayor urged

Listen to displacement fears over airport project, Bulakan mayor urged
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) – October 8, 2019 – 6:37pm

MANILA, Philippines — A federation of fisherfolk groups is asking which team Bulakan Mayor Vergel Meneses—a former professional basketball player—is on, saying an airport project he supports would displace thousands of his constitutuents.

Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas warned that the Bulacan Aerotropolis project in his town would affect around 5,000 residents of coastal Barangay Taliptip, who stand to lose their homes and their access to the sea.

“[I]t is apparent that [his popularity] is indirectly proportional to his concern [for] his constituents in Barangay Taliptip, which will be wiped out by the San Miguel project,” PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson Fernando Hicap said.

Hicap is a former representative of Anakpawis party-list.

“Moreover, this would also affect the whole town, as it [is] clearly a flood-prone area as declared by the Bulacan [Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Managament Council].”

Sought for comment by Philstar.com, Meneses has yet to comment as of this post.

Pamalakaya also called on House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano (Taguig) to conduct a congressional inquiry into the project to look into supposed “loopholes” in the airport project. The group said the project on Manila Bay woul “threaten its biodiversity and moreover, the socioeconomic rights of thousands of its coastal population, and also hundreds of thousands of Bulakenyos who are usual victims of flooding due to typhoons and monsoon rains.

‘The only meaningful project in the last many years’
At the signing of the contract for the airport project in September, SMC president and COO Ramon Ang called it “the only meaningful project in the last many years.”

He called on everyone, in Filipino, to “work together in making this happen because it will uplift the lives of our countrymen. This is for our motherland — the government will own it and we will all benefit from it.”

Under the contract, SMC will finance, design, construct, operate and maintain the airport — to be known as the New Manila International Airport.

Once completed, the Bulacan airport will accommodate 100 to 200 million travellers annually — higher than the Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s 31-million-passenger capacity.

The new facility in Bulacan — which will have four parallel runways — is expected to be operational within four to six years from the start of construction, which is targeted to begin in December this year.

SMC had earlier assured Bulakan residents of their relocation and livelihood, saying the “success of the airport project is linked to well-being of surrounding communities.”

Hicap pointed out that the Supreme Court decision, in a 2008 decision, ordered the rehabilitation of Manila Bay while Administrative Order 16, which created the Manila Bay Task Force, require fast-tracking the restoration of Manila Bay’s ecosystem

He added that, under the Local Government Code, local government units must “ensure the welfare of [their] constituents and to share with the national government the responsibility of [managing and maintaining] ecological balance” in their areas.

“The mayor is risking the welfare of nearly 70,000 of his constituents,” Hicap said as he appealed to the mayor to “listen first and foremost to the protests of the residents from Barangay Taliptip who are directly affected.”

Development for whom?
The Department of the Environment and Natural Resources issued contractor Silvertides Holdings Corp. an environmental compliance certificate, a requirement for development projects.

But Pamalakaya pointed out that only the land development was granted an ECC, and not the aerotropolis itself.

Rodel Alvarez, Pamalakaya-Bulacan spokesman, said: “Amid the intricacy and sophistication of the airport project, the residents and fisherfolk are seemingly left out in the whole design. This only shows a one-sided view of the project where supposed convenience in transportation is being peddled to travelers, yet not presented is the larger view that it will cause massive flooding around coastal and low-lying areas adjacent to it.”

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