Reforest mangroves, not coconut trees along Manila Bay – fishers to DENR

Manila, Philippines – “Still absurd, trying hard, waste of public resources, and simply for aesthetics with a meager to no contribution to rehabilitation of Manila Bay,” according to the national fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Wednesday, in reaction to planting of coconut trees in addition to the infamous dolomite sands along the Manila Baywalk by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

In a statement, the fishers’ group said that although it is natural for coconut palm trees to grow in coastlines, it has “nothing to do with” addressing the environmental degradation of Manila Bay.

“Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it is necessary and priority to restore the bay’s ecosystem. Planting of coconut palm trees along the shores reflects the government’s thrust on Manila Bay rehabilitation which is solely based on external beautification, rather than restoration of its marine and fishery resources,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.

Hicap, also former Anakpawis Party-list Representative, slammed DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu for “misplaced priorities and taking the opposite track” of the Supreme Court’s continuing mandamus to clean-up, restore, and rehabilitate Manila Bay.

“The DENR has completely lost touch with the reality by ridiculously envisioning a tropical paradise in Manila Bay when small fisherfolks and coastal residents actually need restoration of fishery resources for their livelihood and food security,” Hicap, also a local fisherman in Manila Bay said.

Lastly, PAMALAKAYA proposed restoration of mangrove forests and seagrasses that are vital to the Manila Bay’s ecosystem and biodiversity, as they serve as fish sanctuaries, pollution filter, and coastal communities’ flood defense.

“Mangrove reforestation and seagrasses restoration are more relevant to the Manila Bay rehabilitation than the costly yet futile beach nourishment project,” ended Hicap. ###

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