Group: P389-M budget for Manila Bay rehab could be used to plant 13,000 hectares of mangrove forests

A local fisherfolk group has said the budget allocated for the Manila Bay "beach nourishment" could be used to plant 13,000 hectares of mangrove forests to revive the water body's marine ecosystem and biodiversity.

Workers pile the "white sand" to be laid on Manila bay.
(Jansen Romero / MANILA BULLETIN)

Pamalakaya said the P389-million budget to rehabilitate the Manila Bay is more than enough to install mangrove forests that will serve as fish sanctuary, pollution filter, and coastal communities protection.

"Compared to the baloney 'white sand' project along the 500-meter baywalk, mangroves serve many important purposes to marine environment and coastal communities," Pamalakaya national chairperson Fernando Hicap said in a statement.

"Its amenities include community defense against strong waves, storm surges, flood regulation, sediment trapping, marine wildlife habitat, and nurseries," he added.

Hicap said the government's "failure to genuinely rehabilitate" the Manila Bay is "being white washed by the dumping of white sand."

"Instead of a transformative and sustainable environmental intervention, the DENR is more invested in cosmetic surgery," he added.

The fisherfolk group claimed that thousands of hectares of mangroves have been destroyed to give way for reclamation projects intended for commercial and industrial hubs.

From decades ago until 1995, the group noted that mangrove areas in Manila Bay used to cover 54,000 hectares but they have significantly shrunk to 2,000 hectares and at present, only less-than-a-500-hectare is left.

Pamalakaya also warned that the dolomite boulders, the synethetic materials being filled along the baywalk, could pose harm to the marine environment and humans, as it contains heavy metals such as aluminum, lead, and mercury, that could contribute to the pollution and acidity of Manila Bay.