Fishers’ group supports house resolution urging investigation on Manila Bay “beach nourishment” project
Manila, Philippines — The Philippines’ biggest federation of militant small fishermen is backing the House Resolution No. 1194 filed by Bayan Muna Representative Eufemia Cullamat and lawmakers from the Makabayan Coalition, in the House of Representatives, directing the lower house to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the “suitability and sustainability” of the 500-meter “beach nourishment” project through dolomite “white sand” filling in Baywalk, Manila.
In a statement, the fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) said that the lower house is “morally and politically obliged” to investigate what they call as “anomalous project” by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as it involved extracting of natural minerals using millions of public funds.
“We appeal to the legislators of House of Representative to give focus on this matter. Summon top-ranking officials of the DENR before the house and get to the bottom of this. The DENR should be investigated on why the project pushed through despite the absence of an environmental impact assessment nor even a consultative and participatory process in both Manila Bay communities and in Cebu where the dolomites were extracted without the knowledge of the provincial government,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.
PAMALAKAYA’s Hicap, also former Anakpawis Party-list solon, added that the project is a deviation if not in total violation or contempt of the 2008 Supreme Court mandamus for Manila Bay Rehabilitation which never mentioned any “beautification” nor “beach nourishment”. In the past congress, Anakpawis Party-list filed the House Bill 257 pushing for genuine rehabilitation and declaring Manila Bay as a “reclamation-free zone”.
“On the DENR’s claim that this “beach nourishment” project is part of the rehabilitation, we say get their facts straight. The Supreme Court mandamus on Manila Bay never mentioned filling foreign materials into the bay’s fragile waters. Where did Undersecretary Benny Antiporda get that?” Hicap added.
Various environmental groups also questioned the project, such as the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment which said that “land reclamation activity might endanger marine wildlife and affect the coastline communities situated around and nearby the area”. Environment youth group Wavefarers also expressed their opposition, branded the project as aesthetic and does not improve the quality of water any safer and could mislead the public to engaging in unsafe recreation.
PAMALAKAYA reiterated its call to terminate the project, and urged the DENR to focus on genuine rehabilitation, such as reforestation of mangroves and planting of sea grasses that are vital to Manila Bay’s ecosystem. ###
Full text of House Resolution No. 1194