Plant mangrove trees in Manila Bay instead of reclamation, govt urged | CBCP News

20 Apr

See on Scoop.itMakamundo (Earthly)

QUEZON City, March 20, 2012—Instead of destroying the Manila Bay, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) urges the government to restore the denuded mangrove forests along the shoreline of the majestic bay.


In a statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap said, reclamation of the portion of the bay would do no good, both to the environment and the livelihood of the small fisherfolks living near the bay.


‘If the Aquino administration and the DENR want to save Manila Bay and bring back its old glory of clean environment, pristine waters and productive fishing ground, mangrove reforestation, not reclamation is the logical, scientific and logical action to this objective,” the fisherfolk leader said.


“Instead of pushing for the privatization and conversion of Manila Bay, the government should come out with a comprehensive rehabilitation plan that will involve mangrove reforestation with the key support of small fishermen and community residents in all fishing villages situated along Manila Bay,” he added.


The national and local government units, via the Philippine Reclamation Administration (PRA), plan to reclaim at least 26,234 hectares of the Manila Bay area, including Freedom Island, the only bird and mangrove sanctuary at the very heart of the metropolis.


Earth Island Institute (EII)–Philippines disclosed that Freedom Island had been declared as a critical habitat, for migratory and local fishing birds such as Black-crowned Night Herons, Kentish plovers, Curlew Sandpipers and Siberian Ruby Throats, the endangered Chinese Egret, Philippine Duck and the rare Pied Avocet—all are endangered species—by virtue of Proclamation No. 1412, s. 2007.


“The 175-hectare haven stretches at the western side of the Cavite-Manila Coastal Road. It is a natural shield against typhoons and its lagoon functions as an outlet for major waterways in the two cities. Local fisherfolk families such as the magtatahong or mussels and shellfish gatherers also depend on it for their livelihood. Its rich ecosystem plays a vital role for men, birds and marine life… But on the contrary, an impending devastation perpetuated by the national government itself through the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) awaits Freedom Islands,” EII – Philippines said in a statement.


EII said the Las Piñas –Paranaque Critical Habitat and Eco-Tourism Area (LPPCHEA) Project plan to reclaim 635 hectares of the shoreline in front of the sanctuary.


“According to the design of the P14 Billion (US$324 Million) project, a highway linking the future business centers of Las Piñas and Paranaque with the rest of Metro Manila will cut through the mangroves and about 15 percent of the island will be removed to pave way for a drainage system,” said the EII.


“Although the PRA argues that the rest of the island will remain intact for eco-tourism purposes, said infrastructures would pen in the critical habitat wherein saltwater could not circulate and eventually extinguish the mangrove trees. The disintegration of its ecosystem would not only displace birds and livelihoods but also [pose] threats [of] big floods for the two cities,” the EII added.


The EII also furthered that the project forms part of the controversial Manila-Cavite Coastal Road and Reclamation Project (MCCRRP), the resurrected PEA-Amari deal that the Supreme Court has already voided with finality in November 11, 2003 because of issues of patrimony, social injustice, environmental crimes and unconstitutionality.


“Change of players’ names is somehow intended to mislead the issue. But it’s still the same old modus operandi of the government-corporate mafia,” EII said.


Meanwhile, Pamalakaya reveals that on top of the 38 reclamation projects along the shores of Manila Bay, there are 7 reclamation projects along Davao Gulf that constitute 238 hectares and 50 other reclamation projects covering 5,800 hectares of foreshore land areas that include additional man-made land areas in Cagayan Special Economic Zone (220 hectares), Albay Gulf (100 hectares), Leganes Reclamation in Iloilo (1,200 hectares), Bacolod City reclamation (250 hectares), Semirara Island Reclamation (980 hectares), Kalibo reclamation (200 hectares), Isabel reclamation (113 hectares) in Leyte, Talisay Reclamation (250 hectares) in Cebu and San Jose de Buenavista Reclamation (300 hectares) in Antique.


Pamalakaya, together with pro-environment and social justice groups, had filed before the Ombudsman legal cases against Interior and Local Government chief Jesse M. Robredo, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, local officials of Cordova, Cebu, and some officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in the province in connection with the Cordova reclamation project. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]

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