Reclamation project blamed for demolition in CL portions of Manila Bay

THE looming demolition of fishing villages in the mouth of Manila Bay enjoining the coastal areas of Bulacan and Pampanga is largely blamed by militant groups to the ambitious reclamation project by the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) under its’ National Reclamation Plan (NRP) involving 38 reclamation projects that would cover some 26, 234 hectares of foreshore areas.

The fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and Anakpawis party list group said the PRA with the assistance of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will proceed with the reclamation of not less than 2,500 hectares of foreshore land in Pampanga Bay.

“The Supreme Court ruling pertaining to Manila Bay clean up and rehabilitation is being used, exploited and abused by the national government, its concerned agencies and local government units to effectively demolish the livelihood of small fisherfolk and fish open operators along Pampanga River and in the mouth of Manila Bay for a grand corporate project in Central Luzon known as Public-Private Partnership inspired reclamation venture,” said Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France and Anakpawis party list vice chairperson Fernando Hicap.

The two argued that the demolition of 80 houses in Macabebe and 562 houses in Masantol, both in Pampanga and 12 houses in Hagonoy town in Bulacan is just beginning of a new era of demolition and destruction of communities and livelihood in Pampanga and Bulacan.

Both leaders said more communities situated along Pampanga River and Pampanga Bay will soon be demolished to pave way for the reclamation project and the succeeding infrastructure projects the Aquino administration.

Pamalakaya said President Benigno Simeon Aquino III is continuing the project previously approved by his predecessor former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The group was referring to midnight Administrative Order No.288 signed by Arroyo on June 10, 2010, a month before GMA step down from Malacanang.

The administrative order which is now being honored and implemented by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III created an inter-agency body to facilitate the comprehensive study and planning of an integrated development project in Pampanga Bay.

Pamalakaya said Arroyo’s AO No. 288 argues that Pampanga Bay can be potential site for a reclamation project considering the relatively shallow sealed over a large portion with an approximate area of 2,500 hectares which is almost double the size of the reclamation along Manila Bay.

The plan involved the construction of river dikes along two (2) major river systems to define the boundaries of river banks and create land strips with an average width of not less than one hundred (100) meters and extending from the towns proper of Lubao and Sasmuan up to the Pampanga Bay. Such and strips will provide areas for road right of way and for human settlements of mixed land uses following a linear type of development.

The plan stressed that the linear development will provide access through Sasmuan and Lubao with the construction of viaduct or causeway to link the bigger reclamation project within Pampanga Bay.

The plan asserted that development along river dikes can adopt maximum retention of existing land uses, e.g., residential, fishpond and mangrove areas. Possible ecotourism and other activities can be considered to generate investments and employment opportunities for the local residents.

Arroyo’s AO identified the government agencies  which shall be part of said inter-agency body: The PRA as the lead unit; the Provincial Government of Pampanga and the municipal governments concerned; as support agencies, the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Health, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of the Department of Agriculture; the Department of Tourism, and, on the port component, the Philippine Ports Authority.

Hicap of Anakpawis party list warned that the reclamation project will result not only to demolition and destruction of livelihood and fishing villages, but it will cause a “Great Deluge” in the Central Luzon because the reclamation in Pampanga Bay and in the mouth of Manila Bay will cause heavy floods contrary to the claim of the government that it would ease flood in the region, particularly in the provinces of Pampanga and Bulacan.

“The reclamation is basically an obstruction. It will submerge Pampanga, Bulacan and several portions of the National Capita Region in times of heavy rains brought about by frequent typhoons and tropical depression.

The government is inviting a major catastrophe with its reclamation project in Pampanga Bay. This PPP project which promises juicy commissions to government officials but inter-regional disaster to people and the environment must be stopped at all cost,” the Anakpawis party list official added.

Anakpawis said the mass flooding in Central Luzon and National Capital Region as outcome of the reclamation project will directly and indirectly affect not less than 20 million people living or situated along the Manila Bay, mostly farmers, fisherfolk and urban poor.

The group said they will seek a congressional inquiry on the reclamation project on the reclamation project in Pampanga Bay. The groups said they are also contemplating of filing a petition before the Supreme Court seeking a writ of kalikasan to protect the livelihood and environment of affected fisherfolk and other marginalized sectors.

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