Fishermen’s group calls for probe of reclamation projects in Manila Bay  

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The militant fisherfolk group group Pamalakaya on Sunday called for the investigation of anomalous reclamation projects in  Manila Bay, saying these have already destroyed and have  significant impact on  the marine environment.

Pamalakaya said several   groups have long been resisting a number of the reclamation projects, saying these were counterproductive to genuine rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

Pamalakaya last November filed official complaints with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)  against three such projects in Manila Bay, calling for investigation of the effects these projects would have on the marine environment and on  fisherfolk communities along with the publication of the Environment Impact Statements (EIS) of the projects.

An EIS is a document that project proponents prepare and submit to the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), the agency that issues ECCs.

Pamalakaya also called the project dubious “as no information is disclosed to the public and no public consultation nor announcement was conducted.”

“Moreover, in case it is a government project, no signage of project details are installed, and if it is a private activity, there was also no signage for a building permit,” Pamalakaya  said.

“Pangunahing epekto nito ay ang pagwasak ng ecosystem o ang normal na daloy ng pangingisdaan ng ating bansa at kapag ang isang lugar ay nireclaim o tinambakan, hindi na maibabalik sa dating anyo o sa dating pangigisdaan ang mga tinambakan na mga pangingisdaan sa ating bansa,” Pamalakaya Chair Fernando Hicap said during a rally.

In a press statement in January, Anakpawis Party-list leader Ariel Casilao urged lawmakers to pass House Bill 257 Declaring Manila Bay as “Reclamation-Free” Zone, saying, “DENR’s claim is so narrow that it could only cite positive indicators on the bay within the city of Manila when legally it involves a coastline of 190 kilometers and near 200,000 hectares, from Bataan province in the north to Cavite in the South and they did so cited (sic) on their very own Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program.”

President Rodrigo Duterte has  rejected the private sector’s Manila Bay reclamation projects on Saturday night, citing their potential environmental effects.

However, Duterte said he would only allow government projects to undertake reclamation in Manila Bay.

The president had previously said in January that he was not ready to allow any proposed reclamation projects over concerns that the environment might be affected.

This pronouncement came during the President’s speech as the Sangley Airport Development Project in Cavite City was inaugurated.

“There is one important thing that I’d like to make it clear now, not during my time. I will only allow maybe plans of whatever reclamation if it’s in connection with the government projects,” Duterte said./Stacy Ang

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