Manila, Philippines – “An earth-shattering no. The DENR, which is known to be inutile to its mandate in environmental protection doesn’t deserve a big budget that would most likely be wasted on projects such as dolomite dumping,” the militant fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Tuesday said, contesting the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) proposed P1.6-B budget for Manila Bay rehabilitation, out of its overall P25-B budget on 2022.
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA said the department “doesn’t deserve a single centavo for its Manila Bay rehabilitation program”.
“We’ve seen this program’s outcome these last two years. Bukod sa pekeng puting buhangin, ano ba ang signipikanteng naidulot ng dalawang taong rehabilitasyon ng Manila Bay? Nangangamba kaming magamit lamang ang ganitong kalaking pondo sa mga walang kakwenta-kwentang programa ng DENR tulad ng beach nourishment project na wala namang kinalaman sa pagpapanumbalik ng sigla ng Manila Bay bilang pangisdaan,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.
Hicap was referring to the P389 million beach nourishment project or the infamous filling of dolomite sands within the 500-meter stretch of the Manila Baywalk last year.
“The DENR is never true to its mandate to protect and preserve the environment. It keeps on enabling environmentally destructive projects including reclamation. Our question to the honorable legislators is that would you even grant this agency billions of pesos for a rehabilitation program which is a sham in reality?” Hicap, former Anakpawis Party-list representative added.
The former solon added: “to my former colleagues in the congress, the DENR has been using the rehabilitation against tens of thousands of fisherfolk in Manila Bay. The DENR’s rehabilitation is massive displacement and reclamation in disguise. Not only is reclamation destructive to the ecological balance of Manila Bay, it’s also detrimental to the livelihood of our fishers and domestic food security. Stop funding this greenwashing once and for all,”.
Lawmakers under the Makabayan coalition last year have re-filed the bill passed by Anakpawis Party-list in 2019 declaring Manila Bay as a “reclamation-free zone” under House Bill 257. ###