(Photo grabbed from news.abs-cbn.com)
ANGELES CITY — Progressive partylist solons passed yesterday a resolution urging the suspension of the so-called “Battle for Manila Bay” amid lack of plans for some 300,000 marginalized families to be affected by the cleanup move now being carried out by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The families straddle the bay’s coastal areas in Central Luzon, Metro Manila and Southern Tagalog.
The resolution also expressed fears that the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program would just be a ploy to give way to reclamation projects in Manila Bay, including a 265-hectare joint-venture “Pasay Harbor City” involving Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy, a contributor to Pres. Duterte’s campaign funds in the last presidential elections.
“The rehabilitation program could be a prelude to 43 reclamation projects covering more than 32,000 hectares in the bay under the Build, Build, Build program,” it said. The families live along the 194-kilometer coastline of the bay.
The resolution noted that last Jan. 15, Interior and Local Governments Sec. Eduardo Ano estimated that about 220,000 informal settler families along the coasts of Manila Bay are to be relocated to Central Luzon and Calabarzon regions.
The resolution estimated, however, that as many as 300,000 poor families would be affected.
Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Fernando Hicap expressed fears that relocating the families to the regions “will be a waste of taxpayers’ money. If they are to be relocated to far-flung settlement sites away from their sources of livelihood, they will only return to their former communities, which is characteristic of relocation programs of past administrations, thus, the rationale of their demand for an on-site or in-city relocation.”
He noted that Environment and Natural Resources Sec. Roy Cimatu has justified the displacement of informal settler families by accusing them of being culprits in the pollution of Manila Bay.
“They contribute a measly five percent to Metro Manila’s total solid waste output, amid middle- income population’s share is 10 times bigger and commercial sector’s 7.4 times,” Hicap said.
The resolution accused Cimatu of “turning a blind eye to the chemical and toxic wastes being discharged by industrial and commercial structures on a regular basis, as well as other government projects that are destructive to the marine ecology of one of the country’s major fishing grounds.”
The resolution said that even before the Battle for Manila Bay was launched, the fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya (Pamalakaya) had been opposing reclamation projects in Manila Bay.
The group also urged Cimatu for the immediate shutdown of the Navotas Controlled Dump Facility, located exactly in Manila Bay at Barangay Tanza in Navotas, the shutting down of commercial and industrial establishments discharging toxic and chemical wastes that end to Manila Bay, the declaration of Manila Bay as “reclamation-free” zone.
“Reclamation has been causing the extinction of traditional fish and shellfish species in Manila Bay because coral reefs and mangrove forests have been destroyed to give way to commercial business districts and private establishments,“ Pamalakaya then said.
The resolution urged the DENR “to postpone or suspend the execution of the Manila Bay rehabilitation until a comprehensive and holistic study on the socio-economic impact on the affected marginalized sectors has been diligently carried out.”
It also asked the DENR “to publicize its comprehensive plan or masterplan, hold public consultations among affected marginalized sectors; and ultimately, to draft a genuine and democratic program that will sincerely rehabilitate Manila Bay without infringing on the basic rights to livelihood and adequate standard of living of marginalized sectors.”
Apart from Casilao, the resolution was also signed by Bayan Muna’s Rep. Carlos Zarate, Gabriela’s Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas, ACT Teacher’s Rep. Antonio Tinio and France Castro, and Kabataan’s Sarah Jane Elago.