2 years after: Fishers’ group scores bay rehab’s ‘failure’

2 years after: Fishers’ group scores bay rehab’s ‘failure’

Manila, Philippines – A group of small fishermen asserts the failure of Manila Bay rehabilitation program, two years after the national government headed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), launched the campaign.

In a statement, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) said that fishermen across Manila Bay barely felt the effects of rehabilitation, as average fish catch in most of its municipal fishing grounds remain 2-5 kilos per fishing trip.

“Fish catch suffer from interminable decline, an indication of an ever-polluted marine resources. The DENR has failed to address the primary causes of Manila Bay’s ecological degradation. Instead, the head agency of the rehabilitation program resorts to a superficial solution such as dumping of synthetic white sands or the dolomite,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.

To recall, the government started the P49-billion worth Manila Bay rehabilitation program in January 2019. The rehabilitation drive was in compliance with 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 [1990]), to make them fit for swimming, skin-diving, and other forms of contact recreation.

“Ecological disturbances continue to occur across Manila Bay, such as decline of fish catch, loss of endemic fish species and proliferation of alien species regarded as pests. Thus, we raise the question on the effectivity of the government’s ongoing rehabilitation drive that costs billions of public funds,” Hicap, former Anakpawis Party-list added.

Lastly, the fishers’ group scored the DENR for giving “go signal” to reclamation projects that would cause massive destruction of Manila Bay’s resources such as mangroves, seagrasses, and aquaculture, and moreover, would entail displacement of fishing and coastal communities.

The DENR last year, PAMALAKAYA noted, granted environmental compliance certificates (ECCs) to the 320-hectare reclamation project in Bacoor City, Cavite, and the land reclamation of Silvertides Holdings Corp., a contractor of San Miguel Corp. (SMC), to build its 2,500-hectare aerotropolis project in Bulacan province.

“Reclamation defeats the purpose of rehabilitation, as it destroys the essential resources that keep Manila Bay’s abundant marine biodiversity and ecosystem. It has to stop and the agencies and entities responsible for the massive destruction of Manila Bay and displacement of its fishing population must be held accountable,” ended Hicap. ###

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