Published on Tuesday, 09 April 2013 19:02Written by Jonathan Mayuga
AN alliance of people’s and nongovernmental organizations has joined the call to stop the massive land-reclamation projects and urged the government to instead undertake measures to restore the beauty of Manila Bay.
The group, which calls itself People’s Network for the Integrity of Coastal Habitats and Ecosystem (People’s NICHE) described Manila Bay as “a historical leisure place that must be conserved for people of all ranks in society.”
Jojo Carabeo, spokesman for the group, said Manila Bay allows people from all walks of life, regardless of their wealth and social status, to enjoy the beauty of the sunset by just watching it on Manila Bay.
“We cannot allow a project that will impede the people’s enjoyment of this communal space, where people, regardless of their wealth, converge to appreciate the beauty of nature,” Carabeo, said in a statement.
The group said the historic Manila Bay and its sunset are, by itself, a tourist attraction. Many residents of Manila, including families, friends and even lovers, from other cities in Metro Manila frequent the place for a fresh air and simply to watch the beauty of the sunset “without paying a single centavo.”
The group supports calls earlier issued by Save our Sunset Manila Bay Coalition (SOS Manila Bay Coalition) which opposed, in particular, a multi-million-peso development project approved by the city government of Manila on Manila Bay that will require the reclamation of some 144 hectares of foreshore areas between the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) complex area, a project that was developed through the massive land reclamation of the bay in the 1980s itself, and the US Embassy in Manila.
Members of SOS Manila Bay Coalition, led by Doris Magsaysay-Ho, and World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines Executive Director Lory Tan denounced the development of “Solar City,” a semi residential and commercial complex project of Manila Gold Coast Development Corp. of businessman Wilson Tieng and Solar TV in the area.
Members of the SOS Manila Bay Coalition said the project may lead to more flooding in low-lying areas adjacent to it, aside from the fact that killing the sunset view will have adverse impact to the value of the properties facing the bay.
The group earlier threatened to take legal action against the project’s proponents and vowed to make the development project an election issue by lobbying to presidential and senatorial bets in the midterm election this May to help save the sunset view of Manila Bay.
SOS Manila Bay Coalition was formed more than 20 years ago to stop the same development project, which has been revived with the backing of Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim last year.
They questioned the propriety of the project in general, by questioning the legal process by which the contract for it was awarded by the city government of Manila, without thorough study of its impact to people and environment and without proper consultation with those to be affected by the project.
Earlier, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), a national organization of small fishermen threatened to bring to court government officials who approved the reclamation projects that they say will result in the economic dislocation of thousands of small fishermen as the reclamation projects will literally destroy the coastal and marine ecosystem along Manila Bay.
The multibillion project near the CCP Complex and the US Embassy in Manila is just one of the 102 development projects approved by the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) under the National Reclamation Plan that will be implemented all over the country.
The projects require the land reclamation of 38,000 hectares of foreshore areas.
According to People’s NICHE, 38 percent of the 102 reclamation projects encompassing 26,234 hectares or 70 percent of target scope of reclamation will be implemented in Manila Bay.
These projects will cover several costal towns of Cavite province, including Cavite City, Tanza, Noveleta, Rosario, Kawit and Baccor City, and the coastal cities of Metro Manila and coastal towns of Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan in Central Luzon.
Clemente Bautista, leader of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment and coordinator of People’s NICHE, said reclamation is harmful to the marine environment. Manila Bay, he said, is a crucial link in marine cosystems that sustain fish production in the country.
“Once we reclaim these areas, there is no way that we can rehabilitate the original ecosystems in the Manila Bay,” Bautista said.