12 groups ask SC to let them join in Villar’s case against P 14-B reclamation case

TWELVE organizations representing fisherfolk, urban poor, church and health associations and environmental alliances and non-government organizations have coalesced to press the Supreme Court to allow them to act as petitioners-intervenors in the case filed by former Las Pinas Rep. Cynthia Villar and more than 300,000 residents of the city against the P 14-B Manila Bay reclamation project.

In their 14-page motion to intervene, the groups composed of the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) represented by Fernando Hicap and Salvador France, Anakpawis and Bayan Muna party list led by Reps. Rafael Mariano and Teodoro Casino respectively, the Koalisyon Kontra Kumbersyon ng Manila Bay (KKK-Manila Bay), the Bacoor-based Alyansa fisherfolk group, Pamalakaya-Bulacan chapter, the Sagip Manila Bay Movement (SMBM), the Save Freedom Island Movement (SFIM), the Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC-Philippines), the Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment, Earth Island Philippines and the Alliance for Stewardship and Authentic Progress (ASAP) argued that the P 14-B Las Pinas-Paranaque reclamation project involving 203.43 hectares of Paranaque coastal territory and 431.71 hectares of Las Pinas territory is major threat to the livelihood of small fisherfolk sourcing their subsistence from Manila Bay.

“ The source of this collective fear is based on the experience of small fishermen, mussel growers and shell gatherers beginning 2010 upon the completion of R-1 Extension Expressway Project which is now known as Cavite Expressway or Cavitex. Two years after the completion of the solid-based road infrastracture done through massive reclamation of not less than 5,000 hectares of foreshore waters along Bacoor Bay, a dramatic decline in fish capture and aquaculture production took place,” the petitioners said.

The groups said marginal fishermen have been complaining of declining fish catch from an average of 5 kilos to 10 kilos per fishing trip prior to the reclamation and road project to 2 kilos to 3 kilos of average fish catch due to the negative impact of reclamation and road infrastructure project along Bacoor Bay.

The petitioners-intervenors also told SC that several hundreds of hectares of mussel farms were demolished causing grave economic difficulties to small and medium scale mussel operators in Bacoor. Those who were allowed to operate mussel growing in Bacoor Bay likewise suffered further decline and income loss due, while shell gathering once a productive activity in Bacoor Bay is now a thing of the past due to the ecological imbalance created by massive reclamation.

The groups maintained that the massive reclamation in Las Pinas and Paranaque aside from impeding movements and natural flow of waters that cause massive flooding and sky high storm surge during tropical storms and torrential rains will also pave way to widespread demolition of fishing and urban poor communities and total eviction of people from their means of subsistence— which is a gross violation of socio-economic and political rights of the bay people as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.

They said government agencies such as the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the private company tasked to undertake the reclamation of more than 600 hectares of coastal shores in Las Pinas and Paranaque committed a serious and grave error when they gave their seal of approval to the massive reclamation project, which purpose is to facilitate the construction of entertainment and gambling hub. Their (PRA and DENR) joint and respective acts violated the landmark decision of the Supreme Court on Manila Bay rehabilitation.

Thegroups noted that the Supreme Court ruling on Manila Bay rehabilitation has been effectively used and abused by government agencies such as the DENR and the PRA to remove marginalized fishermen and other poor coastal villages from their main source of living and communities.

The said the Las Pinas –Paranaque Coastal Bay project will directly and indirectly affect the economic and social being of 552,660 population in 16 barangays of Paranaque City and 532, 330 residents of Las Pinas City, excluding tens of thousands of fisherfolk and coastal villagers in nearby Bacoor town and neighbor cities of Manila, Navotas, Malabon and coastal towns in Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan provinces who will also be affected by the large-scale reclamation project in various levels.

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