[Business Mirror] DENR to verify reported land-reclamation activities in Bacoor and Sangley Point

DENR to verify reported land-reclamation activities in Bacoor and Sangley Point
By Jonathan L. Mayuga -October 25, 2019111

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will look into the reported land-reclamation activities in Bacoor City and Sangley Point, a Naval Base, in Cavite City.

“We will have to verify first if the reports are true. If it is true, we will then investigate and have to look into documentary evidences like ECC [environment clearance certificate], permit,” DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units (LGUs) Benny D. Antiporda said.

Antiporda, also deputy spokesman of Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu urged the public to report suspicious activities like land reclamation, also called dump-and-fill, in Manila Bay which is the subject of ongoing rehabilitation effort by the Manila Bay Task Force.

“If they have proof or evidence, I encourage them to file a complaint before the DENR and we will look into it,” Antiporda assured.

He said complainants should identify the area and dates the alleged land-reclamation activity took place or is taking place.

“We will immediately send a team to that area to investigate,” the DENR official said.

To recall, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) reported early this week the land- reclamation activity in a privately-owned land near the Bacoor public cemetery despite the supposed ban on land-reclamation imposed by the DENR.

DENR officials earlier vowed not to issue a permit to proponents of a 420-hectare development project being pursued by the Bacoor local government to develop the city’s would-be commercial and central business district.

The project will involve the massive land reclamation in the coastal barangay of Maliksi III in Bacoor City leading to the economic dislocation of hundreds of small fishermen and mussel growers living in the area.

On Wednesday, Pamalakaya issued a statement condemning another land-reclamation activity happening near the former Naval Station Point of the United States Navy in Cavite City. It is now operating as a military base of the Philippine Air Force.

Pamalakaya took photos of the ongoing land reclamation activities in Bacoor and Cavite City.

In the photos that were taken by local members on Wednesday near Sangley Point, a backhoe was caught dumping and filling soils in the coastal waters adjacent to the military base.

There is a long-standing plan to reclaim at least 2,700 hectares of south Manila Bay for the construction of an international airport, costing around P500 billion.

The airport project is proposed by the Cavite provincial government under a joint venture with China’s state-owned Chinese Communications Construction Co. (CCCC) and a local business group led by Luis “Buboy” Virata.

However, Pamalakaya said the project is still pending approval by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

The group chided the DENR for allegedly doing nothing to stop such destructive activity with irreversible environmental impact to Manila Bay, when, in fact, it is tasked to lead the Manila Bay Task Force to restore the historic bay’s water to its pristine state.

Under a decade-old Supreme Court continuing mandamus, the DENR is one of the 13 government agencies ordered to rehabilitate Manila Bay. Specifically, the DENR is mandated to monitor the activities in Manila Bay. Moreover, the group said the DENR is empowered to disapprove any project that is detrimental to the environment by simply rejecting applications for an ECC for environmentally critical projects or projects within or near an environmentally critical area.

Pamalakaya also cited the DENR’s Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau’s (ERDB) report and discovery of live coral covers as one good reason why it should protect the coastal and marine resources in Manila Bay.

The agency claimed that 72 percent of estimated reef area in Manila Bay is found in Cavite.

“Despite apparent nondisclosure of project details and other pertinent documents, the reclamation has already been taking place at the coastal area which used to be a traditional fishing ground for small fisherfolks. Moreover, why is the DENR seemed to be mum on this apparent environmental destruction? Unless they have dubiously issued an ECC to the questionable project, we demand them to transparently probe the project and publish the environmental impact statement [EIS], if such one even exists,” Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya national chairman, said in a statement.

“While study shows that the majority of coral reefs lie across the coastal waters of Cavite, thousands of hectares of reclamation projects, on the other hand, are also pending and already operating in the province,” added Hicap.

“Scientists and experts have long proven that there is no science in the world that tells us that reclamation is good for the marine and aquatic environment,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya said that on top of the environmental catastrophe of the Sangley Point reclamation, it would adversely affect at least 26,000 fishing and coastal families in 7 towns in Cavite; namely, Cavite City, Noveleta, Tanza, Naic, Rosario, Kawit and Bacoor City.

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