SC junks petition to stop SMC’s new airport project in Bulacan

Published January 5, 2021, 5:36 PM

by Rey Panaligan 

 The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday, January 5, dismissed a Writ of Kalikasan petition which pleaded to stop San Miguel Corp. (SMC) from constructing the New Manila International Airport, known as the Aerocity Airport Project, on a 2,500-hectare foreshore area in Bulakan town, Bulacan province.


The denial of the petition filed by fisherfolk and several multi-sector groups was confirmed by Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta in a text message. No details were disclosed, except that the petition was “not sufficient in form and substance.”

A Writ of Kalikasan is a legal remedy for the protection of one’s right to “a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature,” under Section 16, Article II of the Constitution.

In their petition, the groups told the SC that site of the new airport has been classified by the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) as forestland and permanent forestland.

They claimed the project would violate many environmental laws, adversely affect the migratory bird population, and increase risks to climate change impacts that would devastate the marine habitat.

They also claimed that the Airport Project Area and the Airport City Area cover forest and permanent forest land that are not alienable and disposable, thus, there is a violation of  Republic Act 4701 or An Act  Declaring a Portion of the Foreshore Fronting Manila Bay Along the Province of Bulacan as Bulacan Fishing Reservation.          

At the same time, they alleged that portions of the areas covering the project are classified as public forest and fishery reserves and, thus, inalienable.

The airport project, they said, violates RA 7160 or the Local Government Code which mandates public consultation and local government ordinance on projects that impact on the environment and aggravate climate change.

The petitioners were represented by Teodoro Bacon and Rodel Alvarez, together with Oceana through its Vice President, Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos, and Archbishop Roger Martinez of the Archdiocese of San Jose del Monte.  They were joined by the Aniban ng mga Mangagawa sa Agrikultura led by its chairperson Renato de la Cruz.

Oceana is an international advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans.

Named respondents were Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu, Environmental Management Bureau Region III Regional Director Wilson Trajeco, Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, San Miguel Aerocity President/CEO Ramon S. Ang, and Silvertides President/CEO Hercules V. Galicia.

SMC’s Aerocity, with its subsidiary-contractor Silvertides Holdings, also envisioned the construction and development of a 12,000-hectare township that features a residential zone, government center, seaport, and an industrial zone.

The petitioners claimed that the projects also violate the provisions of RA  8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998; RA 9275 or the Clean Water Act; RA 9729 or the Climate Change Act; RA 10654 or An Act to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, Amending RA No. 8550 or The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998; Presidential Decree 705, also known as the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines; Presidential Decree 1586 or the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement Law; and several other administrative issuances, memoranda and circular pertaining to environmental protection.