Fisherfolk group dares new DENR chief to denounce ‘destructive’ Manila Bay reclamation projects

Published August 5, 2022, 4:05 PM

by Jel Santos

Members of fisherfolk group “Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas” (PAMALAKAYA) staged a protest in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) office in Quezon City on Friday, August 5, challenging DENR Secretary Ma. Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga to “take a stand against destructive reclamation projects” in Manila Bay.

(Contributed Photo)

“This protest is a humble appeal to Environment Secretary Yulo-Loyzaga to stand alongside the fisherfolks and coastal residents in our fight against reclamation projects in Manila Bay,” PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson Fernando Hicap said in an official statement.

“For starters, we urge secretary Yulo-Loyzaga to issue a public statement denouncing reclamation, and that no environmental permits would ever be issued to such projects,” he urged Yulo-Loyzaga, who has just been appointed weeks ago.

PAMALAKAYA said that two reclamation projects in Manila Bay have already acquired environmental certificates (ECC): the 420-hectare reclamation project in Bacoor City, Cavite and the 2,500-hectare Bulacan Aerotropolis.

Both projects, the fishers’ group noted, were responsible for the destruction of at least 600 mangrove trees in Brgy. Taliptip in Bulacan, and the landfilling of fishponds in Brgy. Maliksi III in Bacoor City, Cavite.

“Given the environmental cost of reclamation, it should be a no-brainer for the DENR to oppose this activity if they are true to their mandate of environmental protection. Moreover, with her track record as a staunch climate change advocate, Secretary Yulo-Loyzaga should deem reclamation projects as among the major factors of climate change that exacerbate natural disasters,” Hicap pointed out.

“Rejecting reclamation projects should be among the DENR’s disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation measures. Scientists and environmental experts have long proven that no science in the world tells us that reclamation is good for the marine environment. On top of its environmental catastrophe, reclamation entails massive displacement of fisherfolks and coastal communities, threatening their livelihood and local fish supply,” he further emphasized.

As of posting, the PAMALAKAYA recorded around 50 reclamation projects across Manila Bay, covering more than 30,000 hectares of fishing waters.

The aforementioned projects, the group stressed, threaten the remaining mangrove areas in Manila Bay that serve as fish habitat and natural defense of coastal communities.