By Gang, Portnip Pakangcharap and Gerry Albert Corpuz
Manila, Philippines- Manila Bay based groups led by Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Anakpawis party list- Manila Bay Chapter and the Koalisyon Kontra Kumbersyon ng Manila Bay (KKK-Manila Bay) on Saturday renewed their demand to President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to sign an executive order banning all reclamation activities in Manila Bay from Cavite City to Bataan .
In a joint statement signed by Pamalakaya chairperson and Anakpawis vice-chair Fernando Hicap and KKK-Manila Bay convener Salvador France, the groups said the proposed EO should overturn the National Reclamation Plan of the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) the put on the reclamation map some 26, 000 hectares of foreshore lands along the bay.
Pamalakaya, KKK-Manila Bay and Anakpawis party list said the EO which they wished Aquino would sign will effectively stop the P 14-billion Freedom Island reclamation project in Las Pinas and Paranaque, which include the 175-hectare mangrove forest and bird sanctuary, the 148-hectare reclamation project near the Manila Yacht Club in Manila previously revived by Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and the 5,000 hectare reclamation plan under the North Bay Boulevard Project in Navotas City.
The groups said the reclamation projects in Cavite, Las Pinas, Paranaque, Manila and Navotas, aside from their negative impact to fisherfolk livelihood and marine environment, will further lead to the sinking of the National Capital Region and would contribute more to massive flooding due and storm surges due to reclamation's obstructive and destructive nature because they are designed to host profit driven ventures.
Pamalakaya and allied groups recalled that under EO 629 signed during the term of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the PRA will reclaim over 5,000 hectares of coastal areas near and along Sangley Point, which was presided by the reclamation of 7,000 hectares of foreshore area in Bacoor Bay which paved the way for the construction of R-1 Expressway Extension Project, which is an enabling infrastructure for the reclamation and development of Sangley naval base. Several months ago, President Aquino canceled the 7,000 hectare reclamation project in Cavite City, which was recently eyed for the expansion of Sangley Naval Base, a former US military naval base for seaport and international airport projects.
Aquino said the project is not viable due to lack of funds and investors are not keen to put their money on the reclamation of Sangley naval base. According to E.O 629, the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) is tasked to pursue reclamation activities along the foreshore area of Cavite to expand the limited land of Cavite City where the planned international seaport and airport will be constructed.
The Arroyo E.O put to task the PRA to lead the Executive Committee for the Development of Sangley Point into an international logistic hub. The PRA will be supported by representatives from the office of the Mayor of Cavite City, Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Department of National Defense (DND), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Public Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) As this developed, Pamalakaya staunch ally Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano, acting on the complaints of fishermen and urban poor residents along the bay had filed a house resolution seeking an inquiry into the planned reclamation projects in many parts of Manila Bay and find out the impact of these projects to fisherfolk livelihood and community rights.
Mariano said reclamation projects under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program of the Aquino administration could result in the displacement of thousands of people living the affected areas. "These projects will only benefit the few and will be a disadvantage to the already disadvantaged small fisherfolks," Mariano said. Mariano said some 3,500 small fisherfolks and their families in the Pasay Reclamation Area and another 3,000 coastal and urban poor families along the coastal shores of Paranaque City were evicted by the Ramos administration to give way to reclamation projects.
Mariano said the fishermen living along Manila Bay observed a sharp decline in their daily fish catch from a high of 15 to 20 kilos a day down to 3 to 5 kilos a day.
The reclamation plan was presented to the Cabinet Economic Cluster Committee, in June 2011 which reportedly noted the huge potential investment that reclamation projects could generate, according to Mariano.
Mariano said these projects are similar to the Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore experiences, and other countries implementing reclamation projects and covering not only by the hundreds but thousands of hectares as an avenue towards achieving economic growth and development.
"Even the Pasay City Government has submitted a proposal to the PRA for a 50-hectare reclamation project within its jurisdiction along the NRP Manila Bay sector and according to the same letter, the PRA is already processing the application," Mariano said.