Gov’t reclamation projects will kill Philippine coasts, marine biodiversity

PROTESTS against a national plan to reclaim 10% of our country’s shorelines were held by environmental groups and fisherfolks in front of the House of Representatives in time for the commemoration of World Fisheries Day today.

“The Philippines is one of the richest countries worldwide in terms of coastal and marine biodiversity and resources, with around 2,819 marine fish species and 308 freshwater fish species according to the World Fish Center. A significant portion of our population also directly depends on the fisheries sector for their livelihood,” Kalikasan Party-list National President Clemente Bautista noted.

Bautista, however, warned that current reclamation projects by the national government threaten to destroy such rich yet fragile biodiversity. “The government’s current National Reclamation Plan covers 38,272 hectares of coastal areas nationwide, including Manila Bay, encompassing nearly one-tenth of the country’s coastal and marine habitats,” Bautista noted.

“Reclamation projects are an irreversible form of environmental degradation. They severely contribute to the destruction of our coastal and marine habitats, such as coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass beds and will pose adverse consequences for the many fisherfolk communities affected,” he added.

Currently ongoing today are two public hearings on the issue of reclamation.

Starting at 2 p.m. in Manila is the Court of Appeals (CA) hearing on the Writ of Kalikasan sought against the Las Pinas-Paranaque Reclamation project spanning a part of Manila Bay’s southern coastline. Advocates calling for the closure of the reclamation project will be attending the hearing and holding a simultaneous action outside the CA.

In Quezon City this afternoon, the House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources will be tackling various House Resolutions (HRs) on the impacts of reclamation. These include HR 1611 filed by Reps. Mariano and Gonzales; HR 2305 filed by Rep. Mariano; HR 1558 filed by Reps. Rodriguez and Mariano; HR 1952 filed by Reps. Olivarez and Palatino and HR 2093 filed by Reps. Gonzales and Palatino.

A People’s Summit on the Impacts of Reclamation was held earlier from October 24 to 25 at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. Representatives who attended the summit—including environmental advocates, experts, and affected community leaders—all resolved to convene the Network for the Integrity of Coastal Habitats and People’s Resilience and call for a ten-year moratorium on reclamation projects pending a comprehensive, transparent and consultation-based review of the Philippine’s outdated national policies on reclamation projects.

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