MANILA Bay based groups rebuked the announcement of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III that he had recalled the reclamation project of former President Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“That’s only in paper, but in reality, the Office of the President even expanded the scope of the Pampanga Bay reclamation project from 2,500 hectares to 4,500 hectares and President Aquino renamed it Pampanga Bay Intergrated Development Project. It is another case of same dog, new collar story,” the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Koalisyon Kontra Kumbersyon ng Manila Bay (KKK-Manila Bay), Sagip Manila Bay Movement and Anakpawis party list- Manila Bay wide chapter said in a joint statement.
President Aquino last week revoked a “midnight” administrative order issued by former President Arroyo for a reclamation project in Pampanga Bay. The Chief Executive signed Administrative Order No. 32 revoking AO No. 288 that created an inter-agency body to facilitate the comprehensive study and planning of an integrated development project in Pampanga Bay.
Malacañang said the former President signed the order three weeks before she stepped down from office in 2010 and includes dike construction, reclamation and a port project in Pampanga Bay and the Lubao-Sasmuan areas.
But Pamalakaya chairperson and Anakpawis party list no.1 nominee Fernando Hicap said the Aquino government under its National Reclamation Plan (NRP) will pursue reclamation of 4,500 hectares of coastal waters in the municipalities of Lubao, Sasmuan and Macabebe.
“We cannot be fooled by mere statements and policy shifts of Malacanang. The idea of Mr. Aquino is still large-scale land reclamation and in fact has expanded the scope from 2,500 hectares to 4,500 hectares of coastal areas situated along Pampanga Bay,” he said.
The Pamalakaya official revealed that aside from the 4,500 hectare land reclamation in Pampanga, Malacanang is also eyeing the reclamation of 1, 317 hectares in the adjacent area of Malabon and Obando, Bulacan and another 5,574 hectares of coastal waters in the municipalities of Bulacan, Malolos, Paombong and Hagonoy.
Hicap also said another 2,054 hectares will be reclaimed in the coastal towns of Bataan province. All in all, about 13,770 hectares of coastal areas will be reclaimed in Central Luzon based on NRP of the Public Reclamation Authority (PRA).
Pamalakaya and Anakpawis party list also warned President Aquino of a looming “Battle of Manila Bay” against his administration if PRA will push the reclamation projects in Central Luzon and other parts of Manila Bay.
The NRP includes the controversial P 14-B Las Pinas-Paranaque reclamation project, of which a petition of Writ of Kalikasan was filed by the former Las Pinas representative Cynthia Villar and more than 315,000 residents of the city filed before the Supreme Court and currently being tackled by Court of Appeals.
“An across-the-Manila Bay revolt to be headed by small fisherfolk and marginalized residents of Manila Bay is not a remote possibility if the PRA, which is under the Office of the President will push through with its plans to reclaim the bay at the expense of people’s livelihood, social justice and sustainable environment,” the groups said.
Also last week, the Third Division of the Court of Appeals has junked the Very Urgent Motion for Leave to Intervene on the P 14-B Manila Bay Reclamation project filed by the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and 11 other organizations on September 5, 2012
In six- page resolution dated October 22, 2012, Associate Justice Apolinario D. Bruselas Jr ordered the denial of the motion. The resolution was concurred by Associate Justices Rebecca de Guia-Salvador and Samuel Gaerlan.
The CA associate justices also said the division is not inclined to grant the motion of Pamalakaya et a because while the movant fisherfolks in Las Pinas, Paranaque and other nearby areas along the Manila Bay coastline may be affected by the outcome of Writ of kalikasan proceedings, the interest, if it exists at all, is indirect, contingent, remote, conjectural, consequential and collateral.
According to Pamalakaya and other 11 groups 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.