Fishers group submits complaint vs. Manila Bay reclamation projects to congress
Manila, Philippines – Almost a week after fisherfolk activists submitted their letter of complaint against Manila Bay reclamation projects in Cavite province, to Department of Environment and Natural Secretary Roy Cimatu, they furnished a copy to the House of Representatives Committee on Ecology, particularly to its Chairperson Representative Glona Labadlabad. Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya-Pilipinas) and former house member himself, as representative of Anakpawis Party-list Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap, submitted the letter.
Letter of complaint
The formal “Letter of Complaint against Reclamation Projects in Manila Bay in Cavite,” raised about: the reclamation of a fish pond in Brgy. Maliksi III in Bacoor City, which is adjacent to Manila Bay; the reclamation in the Sangley Point Airport project in Cavite City; and the reclamation at the site of Chinese-owned Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) in Kawit town.
The submission to the house body is the first addressee among to be furnished with copies of the complaint, and would be followed by the submission to the office of Bacoor City Lani Mercado-Revilla and Bacoor City Barangay Maliksi III Chairperson Nieto Toledo.
“Kung kailangan pati ang Office of the President ay bibigyan namin ng kopya ng reklamo, para marinig ang mga hinaing ng mga mangingisda sa Cavite. Ang nakakainis dito ay kailangan pang mag-reklamo gayung may kautusan na ang Supreme Court na i-rehabililtate ang Manila Bay, may AO 16 na si Duterte, may Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program ang DENR, pero nagpatuloy pa rin ang mga reclamation projects na malinaw na pagwasak ng marine environment,” Hicap said in a press statement.
(If needed, we would furnish a copy to the Office of the President, so that they would be informed of the grievances of fisherfolk residents in Cavite. The frustrating part is that the people still need to do these bureaucratic process, when Supreme Court already ordered to rehabilitate Manila Bay, Duterte issued his AO 16, and DENR has its Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program, but reclamation projects that clearly destroyed the marine environment still pushed through.)
The Administration Order No. 16 was issued by President Rodrigo Duterte in February 2019, forming the Manila Bay Task Force led by the DENR, and mandating all involved agencies for cooperation and coordination. This was as compliance to the 2008 Supreme Court mandamus to “clean up, rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay, and restore and maintain its waters to SB level (Class B sea waters per Water Classification Tables under DENR Administrative Order No. 34 ) to make them fit for swimming, skin-diving, and other forms of contact recreation.”
“Itinatambol namin na ang Supreme Court mandamus ay hindi lang patungkol na gawing panglibangan ang Manila Bay, pero para rin sa development and conservation of fisheries and aquatic resources,” he added.
(We are also drumbeating that the Supreme Court mandamus did not only brought about making Manila Bay water swimmable, but also for the development and conservation of fisheries and aquatic resources.)
The Supreme Court mandamus ordered the Department of Agriculture and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to enforce all laws for “respecting the conservation and proper utilization of agricultural and fishery resources,” and to cooperate with the DENR to prevent and control water pollution for the “development, management, and conservation of the fisheries and aquatic resources.” It is also directed to assist the local government units in Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan in developing, using recognized methods, the fisheries and aquatic resources in the Manila Bay.
Moreover, the DENR’s Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program which was based on the Operational Plan for the Manila Bay Coastal Strategy 2017-2022 (OPMBCS), aimed to protect shoreline features and conservation of biological resources. It also pointed out that reclamation is an area of concern and risk.
“Kaya sa isyung ito, responsable ang DENR, DA, BFAR at mga LGU, na ang nakikita natin ay reclamation projects at naganap na fish kill pa sa Manila Bay. Ito ang itutulak namin sa kongresong imbestigahan dapat nga ay nagtutulungan na ang BFAR at mga LGU para paunlarin ang pangisdaan, pero reclamation projects ang mga inaatupag ng mga ito,” he elaborated.
(On this issue, the responsible would be DENR, DA, BFA and LGUs, amid we are witnessing reclamation projects and the fish kill in Manila Bay. We are calling congress to deeply probe this, when BFAR and the LGUs, should already be coordinating on how to develop the fishery resources, but they busy themselves with reclamation projects.)
Finally, Hicap warned the Duterte government against deliberately violating the Supreme Court mandamus for allowing and even planning more reclamation projects in Manila Bay. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is still offering the Manila Bay Integrated Flood Control, Coastal Defense and Expressway Project, and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is evaluating the P399.66-billion Manila Bay flood control project being proposed by the consortium of San Miguel Corporation and New San Jose Builders.
“Lumalabas na wala talagang planong sundin ni Duterte ang kautusan ng Supreme Court, kung panay ang promote niya ng reclamation. Nag-iimbita ito demanda sa paglabag sa kautusan at malawakang protesta ng mamamayan na ang kagustuhan talaga ay makapaglibang sa Manila Bay, hindi i-reclaim at isapribado ito,” he ended.
(It turns out the Duterte had really no plan of abiding the Supreme Court mandamus, amid his promotion of reclamation projects. This invites suits as he tends to violate the order, and massive people’s protests whose aspiration is to enjoy Manila Bay, not to reclaim and privatize it.) ###