Manila, Philippines – “The DENR has further exposed itself as destroyer of people’s livelihood and environment. Giving go-signal to a reclamation project in Manila Bay is a complete turnabout of its mandate to preserve and protect the environment,” according to the militant fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Monday, lambasting the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for issuing environmental compliance certificate (ECC) to the San Miguel Corp.’s (SMC) P700-billion aerotropolis project in Bulacan province that would over 2,500 hectares of Manila Bay.
In a statement, the fishers’ group reaffirm that the aerotropolis project is “on the opposite track” of the Manila Bay rehabilitation program, by virtue of Supreme Court’s continuing mandamus to clean-up, restore, and rehabilitate Manila Bay.
“The Supreme Court mandamus is crystal clear – to rehabilitate Manila Bay and restore its use for fishery resources development and recreational purpose. Reclamation was never mentioned in the mandamus. The DENR should be made to answer on why it keeps on issuing environmental clearances to destructive reclamation projects,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said.
Amid strong opposition from local fishers and residents, the DENR last year also issued ECC to the 320-hectare Bacoor Reclamation and Development Project, part of the twin-reclamation project covering a total of 420 hectares of Bacoor City’s municipal waters in Manila Bay.
PAMALAKAYA said that reclamation causes massive destruction of Manila Bay’s resources such as mangroves, seagrasses, and aquaculture. Moreover, the group explained, it would entail displacement of fishing and coastal communities.
Lastly, the fishers’ group warned that “colluding environmental officials” may put themselves into facing ton-loads of legal cases, as local fishers affected by the aerotropolis project, environmentalists and scientists have been screaming of irregularities in the project’s application process, such as the lack of public consultation among the stakeholders and absence of public scoping.
“Reclamation defeats the purpose of rehabilitation as it endangers vital marine resources that keep Manila Bay abundant and biodiverse. It has to stop and the agencies and entities responsible over the environmental degradation of Manila Bay and displacement of its fishing population must be held accountable,” ended Hicap. ###