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Groups buck reclamation projects along Manila Bay

Written by  Charlie V. Manalo
Sunday, 13 January 2013 00:00 [ tribune.net.ph ]
Groups opposed to large-scale reclamation along Manila Bay yesterday warned that Central Luzon would soon become a region of great floods and storm surges comparable to the Great Deluge in the Holy Bible if the national government will pursue the reclamation of more than 13,000 hectares of coastal areas in the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan under the National Reclamation Plan (NRP) of the Philippine Reclamation Authority  or the PRA.
In a joint press statement, the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Anakpawis party-list, Manila Bay chapter, the National Capital Region based Sagip Manila Bay Movement, Save Freedom Island Movement and Koalisyon Kontra Kumbersyon ng Manila Bay or KKK-Manila Bay said unless revoked, the massive reclamation of coastal areas in the region will put Central Luzon in the global map as a Philippine region highly prone to huge floods, storm surges and irreparable damage during strong typhoons.
Pamalakaya national chairman and Anakpawis party-list No.1 nominee Fernando Hicap noted that 4,500 hectares of coastal areas covered by Manila Bay in Pampanga will be reclaimed for the Pampanga Bay Integrated Development Project. The fisherfolk leader said the government through the PRA will also reclaim 1,317 hectares in the adjacent area of Malabon and Obando, Bulacan and another 5,574 hectares of coastal waters in the municipalities of Malolos, Paombong and Hagonoy, all in Bulacan province.
Hicap said another 2,054 hectares will be reclaimed in the coastal towns of Bataan province. All in all, about 13,770 hectares of coastal areas will be reclaimed in Central Luzon based on NRP of the PRA.
The Anakpawis party-list nominee also noted that in November last year, President Aquino revoked an administrative order issued during the past administration for a reclamation project in Pampanga Bay, at the same time creating an inter-agency body to facilitate the comprehensive study and planning of an integrated development project in Pampanga Bay.
But Pamalakaya, Anakpawis and other opposition groups noted that the Aquino government under NRP will still pursue reclamation of 4,500 hectares of coastal waters in the municipalities of Lubao, Sasmuan and Macabebe.
Pamalakaya and Anakpawis also warned Aquino of a looming “Battle of Manila Bay” against his administration if PRA will push the reclamation projects in Central Luzon and other parts of Manila Bay.
The NRP includes the controversial P14-billion Las Piñas-Parañaque reclamation project, of which a petition of Writ of Kalikasan was filed by the former Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar and more than 315,000 residents of the city filed before the Supreme Court and currently being tackled by Court of Appeals.
“An across-the-Manila Bay revolt to be headed by small fisherfolk and marginalized residents of Manila Bay is not a remote possibility if the PRA, which is under the Office of the President, will push through with its plans to reclaim the bay at the expense of people’s livelihood, social justice and sustainable environment,” the groups said.
According to Pamalakaya, marginal fishermen have been complaining of declining fish catch from an average of five kilos to 10 kilos per fishing trip prior to the reclamation and road project to two to three kilos of average fish catch due to the negative impact of reclamation and road infrastructures along Bacoor Bay.
Pamalakaya and other anti-reclamation groups also protested the plan of the Manila government to reclaim 144 hectares of coastal areas in the city which will cover portions of Manila Yacht Club and the US Embassy in Manila.
Other groups, including SOS Manila Bay, also protested the planned reclamation in the main capital because the construction of huge buildings in Manila will prevent the public from viewing the famous Manila Bay sunset.
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