Repeal Reclamation of Manila Bay
The conflict over the proposed P14-billion reclamation project in Manila Bay pits protagonists from the Manila Goldcoast Development Corporation, the Manila and Las Piñas City Governments, the Philippine Reclamation Authority, and the Department Environmental of Natural Resources, and Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) which denied demands to recall its approval for an environmental compliance certificate, on one side, and on the other 12 environmental and fisherfolk groups including Pamalakaya, Koalisyon Kontra Konbersyon ng Manila Bay, Save Freedom Island Movement, Sagip Manila Bay Movement, Anakpawis Manila Bay Chapter, Kalikasan People’s Network. One legal ground cited by the petitioners was that there had been no public bidding for the project. Lory Tan, CEO of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Philippines notes that “reclamation is a risky technology because of rising sea levels and incessant rainfall. The Philippines has one of the highest sea level rises in the world and reclamation would only aggravate it.” He cites WWF studies which show that a poorly planned reclamation can create a giant bowl between Manila and the seashore. The natural slope of the bay helps drain rain water but after a reclamation, the slope is replaced by higher ground and the rain water is unable to flow elsewhere thus creating a flood area.
An ongoing signature campaign seeks support for the repeal of Ordinance No. 8233 which will reclaim 148 hectares of foreshore and offshore areas along the Manila Bay coastline near the Yacht Club/Philippine Navy basin and adjacent to the seawall of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). The campaign also seeks to restore Ordinance No. 7777 passed in 1993 which prohibits any form of reclamation along Manila Bay.
The Manila Coalition also presses for the cancellation of the contract made in June 2011 between the Manila City government and the developer without due consultation with the people. This ordinance authorized Mayor Alfredo Lim to proceed with the reclamation.
In its petition, the Coalition cited the lowering of the land surface by several centimeters to more than a decimeter a year in the areas of Ermita, Malate, and Intramuros. This is caused by excessive extraction of ground water where existing infrastructure can no longer support the aggressive development of the area. Already, extreme pressure is placed on the inadequate water and power supply, traffic, sewage and sanitation. On cultural grounds, it cites RA 7586 (1992) which declares that the Manila Bay must be considered as a protected landscape and seascape, and the resolution declaring Roxas Boulevard as a National Historical Landmark.
Rep. Cynthia Villar, one of the first to file a protest, secured a Writ of Kalikasan from the Supreme Court arguing that the reclamation project presented an economic and environmental threat to about 1.5 million residents in Las Piñas and Parañaque.
But the Manila Goldcoast Development Corporation denied these claims saying that “the Project to be located at the back of the Philippine Navy and the Yacht Club, will abide by world class best practices and use, and ‘state of the art green technology’.” It will not cause floods and will in fact reduce the occurrence of floods. The corporation further argues that the Project would not disrupt the marine ecology and human settlers in the area. The commercial center and an international cruise ship terminal which will be built within the site will in fact boost tourism.
But the petitioners remain unconvinced and resolute in their stance and ask all citizens to join the campaign, not just against the Manila reclamation project but for other similar projects being planned. Abangan ang susunod.