“Reclamation-free zone”, not just “discipline zone”, would make Manila Bay clean and healthy – DENR told

“Reclamation-free zone”, not just “discipline zone”, would make Manila Bay clean and healthy – DENR told

Manila, Philippines — A group of small fishermen on Tuesday called a “misplaced priority” the proposal of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) to the Manila City local government to declare the entire stretch of Manila baywalk a “discipline zone” purportedly to keep the bay “clean”.

Instead, the militant fishers group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) urged the DENR, which heads the Manila Bay rehabilitation task force, to revoke all the environmental compliance certificates (ECCs) issued to several reclamation projects, and declare the historic bay a “reclamation-free zone”.

The 320-hectare reclamation in Bacoor City, Cavite, and the land development reclamation for the Bulacan airport project, have already secured ECCs.

“While the DENR is making a fuss out of feces, it fails to recognize the actual and biggest threat in Manila Bay — the massive reclamation projects that wipeout mangrove forests and sea grasses, and cause irreversible damage and pollution in the waters,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.

“How about declare the Manila Bay a reclamation-free zone to save it from further ecological destruction and revive its marine and fishery resources? The proposed “discipline zone” along the stretch of the Manila Baywalk reeks poor-blaming while exonerating government agencies that facilitate destructive projects and those actual big-business environmental plunderers from accountability,” Hicap added.

PAMALAKAYA’s Hicap, also former Anakpawis Party-list Representative during the 16th Congress, mentioned the pending House Bills (HB) prohibiting reclamation in Manila Bay; namely, the HB 257 declaring the Manila Bay a “reclamation-free zone” which was re-filed by Bayan Muna Party-list along with the Makabayan bloc, and the HB 3169 seeking to ban reclamation in Manila Bay and to declare it as a heritage site, filed by Pangasinan solon Rose Marie “Baby” Arenas.

“From dolomite ‘white sand’ filling to a ‘discipline zone’. The DENR’s misplaced priorities and superficial solutions to the degrading Manila Bay are costing the Filipinos a fortune, instead of a community-based and science informed rehabilitation program that aims to restore the bay’s fishery resources,” ended Hicap. ###

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