CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – Various groups urged yesterday Pres. Aquino to impose a 10-year moratorium on all reclamation projects slated to be done by the Philippine Reclama-tion Authority (PRA).
The total coverage of the national reclamation plan slated for the next three years is 38, 272 hectares, mostly in the area of the Manila Bay, they noted. The adversely affected areas would also include Pampanga and Bataan.
The moratorium is “to allow experts and other independent groups to determine the impacts of large-scale reclamation on fishing areas and coastal people’s livelihood,” said a joint statement issued by the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Anakpawis party list- Manila Bay, Koalisyon Kontra Kumbersyon ng Manila Bay (KKK-Manila Bay), Sagip Manila Bay Movement and Save Freedom Island Movement.
Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France and Anakpawis party list vice chairperson Fernando Hicap said the President “is legally, morally and politically obliged” to impose a moratorium or just suspend the pending reclamation projects.
“A 10-year moratorium period is necessary to undertake a major study on the impact of large-scale land reclamation in Manila Bay and other areas. There are many major and minor concerns that should be addressed and this require an ample period of time,” France said.
He said “it would be proper for the Aquino administration to declare an across-the-country moratorium on reclamation to halt the adverse effects of large-scale reclamation on the people’s livelihood and protect their social justice rights as well as environment.”
Pamalakaya, KKK-Manila Bay and Anakpawis party list are opposed to the ambitious plan of PRA to undertake 38 major land reclamation projects in Manila Bay that would cover 38, 264 hectares of foreshore areas along the bay from Cavite City to Bataan province.
The 38 reclamation projects in Manila Bay is part of 102 reclamation program the Aquino administration will carry out in the next three years.
“Pres. Aquino is not only pushing a major catastrophe to happen in Manila Bay. He is also inviting a Manila Bay people’s revolt here with tens of thousands of affected fishers and urban poor expected to rise above the occasion and fight his administration,” the groups warned in their statement.
Pamalakaya noted that the reclamation project in Las Pinas-Paranaque alone that “will cover 635 hectares of foreshore areas and 175 hectares of bird sanctuary and mangrove areas where over a million people will be affected in two cities as a result of heavy flooding and storm surges to be caused by large-scale reclamation.”
Pamalakaya said it had obtained documents on the reclamation plan of PRA, citing a letter, dated Dec. 5, 2011, of PRA to Environment Sec. Ramon Paje requesting clearance for at least 102 reclamation projects from Metro Manila to Visayas and Mindanao.
“On Dec. 12, 2011, Environment Undersecretary Analiza Rebuelta-The ordered all regional Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) executive directors to take immediate action on the PRA request,” Pamalakaya said.
It noted that “the PRA plan included 38 reclamation programs in Manila Bay that would cover 26,234 ha of foreshore lands in Cavite, the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan.”
“At least seven reclamation projects are in the Davao Gulf consisting of 238 hectares. Fifty other reclamation projects cover 5,800 more hectares of foreshore lands, including 220 hectares in the Cagayan Special Economic Zone, 100 in Albay Gulf, 1,200 in Leganes in Iloilo, 250 in Bacolod City, 980 in Semirara Island , 200 in Kalibo, 113 in Isabel in Leyte, 250 in Talisay in Cebu, and 300 in San Jose de Buenavista in Antique.
The group said PRA “is also hell-bent on reclaiming a 175-hectare mangrove forest along the Manila Bay which serves as shelter for several species of waterfowl and birds.”
Pamalakaya recalled that from 1992 to 1995, at least 3,000 fishermen and their families were evicted to give way to the Pasay reclamation project.