“No reason to celebrate the failed Manila Bay rehab” – group
Manila, Philippines – “The dramatic decrease of coliform levels in certain areas of Manila Bay does not equate to development of the rehabilitation, as it still does not address the sources of pollution that deteriorates its marine environment,” This was the response of the militant fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) to environment secretary Roy Cimatu, who announced that levels of fecal coliform bacteria in major outfalls draining into Manila Bay have “drastically decreased”, one year after the government started its rehabilitation campaign.
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA questioned the improvements claim of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which heads the 13-agency Manila Bay Task Force, saying “ecological and marine disturbances” still occur in major fishing areas of the Manila Bay.
The fisherfolk group recalled the fish kill that hit the southern part of Manila Bay in October last year wherein at least 2 tons of fish were found floating dead, shellfish species were also affected by the fish kill.
“Ironically, the DENR has been bragging about the improved water quality of Manila Bay and yet, ecological disturbances such as fish kill and constant depletion of fish catch arise. Thus, we raise the question on the effectivity of the government’s ongoing rehabilitation drive that costs the public coffer a whopping amount of P42 billion,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.
PAMALAKAYA slammed the DENR secretary for “keeping mum” on reclamation projects pending and already approved across Manila Bay.
“Secretary Cimatu failed to include on his report that while rehabilitation is ongoing, several reclamation projects are underway, while some of the big-ticket reclamation projects are under the process of acquiring environmental permits and area clearances. These projects that run contrary to the essence of rehabilitation will prove that the government’s rehabilitation per se is a sham,” Hicap added.
PAMALAKAYA challenged the DENR to “check the waters where reclamation projects are ongoing as they are potential source of heavy metal substances and construction wastes”, as well as to release a comprehensive report on the status of Manila Bay one year after the rehabilitation campaign.
The fisherfolk group will have a protest in front of the DENR central office on Monday, to formally declare the ‘failure’ of the Manila Bay rehabilitation. ###