Group urges Mayor Lim to recall 148-hectare reclamation project

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A GROUP opposed to large-scale reclamation projects in Manila Bay appealed to Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim to recall the 148-hectare reclamation project which was cancelled more than 20 years ago.

Anakpawis Party-list said Mayor Lim should recall the revived agreement between the City Government of Manila and the Manila Goldcoast Corporation, which allows the private developer to reclaim and develop portions of US Embassy and Manila Yacht Club facing Manila Bay.

“We ask the city of Mayor of Manila to listen to the collective interest of the people and please drop this reclamation project for the sake of the people and for the good of the environment,” said Anakpawis vice chairperson Fernando Hicap.

He said the damage which the reclamation project would bring to Manila Bay is super devastating especially to small-scale fishermen and urban communities along the bay.

The group claimed that the area to be reclaimed is “ten times the size of Rockwell, four times the size of Eastwood, and two times the size of Rizal Park.

“Imagine another era of reclamation and destruction will take place in Manila Bay courtesy of this project. We submit this humble appeal to Mayor Lim to rescind the contract with the private developer and refrain further from privatizing and converting the coastal shores of Manila Bay. This PPP (Public-Private Partnership) driven project of Malacanang deserves wholesale rejection,” the Anakpawis party list official added.

Meanwhile, other groups opposed to reclamation projects in Manila Bay also assailed the World Bank (WB) for extending financial support to what it called bogus rehabilitation project in Manila Bay.

The fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), the Koalisyon Kontra Kumbersyon ng Manila Bay (KKK-Manila Bay), Save Freedom Island Movement (SFIM), Sagip Manila Bay Movement (SMBM) and Anakpawis party list-Manila Bay chapter rebuked the $ 57 million grant of WB to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The WB support fund for DENR projects has been extended for another year. The $57 million fund will support the environmental agency projects which include the rehabilitation of Manila Bay, air quality improvement and wild life management.

But Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France said the WB fund is meant to finance demolition projects along Manila Bay to push through reclamation projects the Aquino government and the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) had identified under the National Reclamation Plan (NRP).

“There are 38 big reclamation projects in Manila Bay that will involve the reclamation of 26,234 hectares of waters of Manila Bay. These projects are primed to provide support structures to transnational gambling giants and entertainment monopolies will kill the livelihood of not less than 12 million people and displacement of 1 million small fishing families,” said France.

France argued that DENR has been awarding environmental compliance certificates to private developers commissioned by the national and local governments to undertake massive reclamation along Manila Bay despite negative and disastrous impacts to fishing livelihood and coastal communities.

According to DENR Secretary Ramon Paje, the funding extension for the WB environmental initative will provide impetus in the completion of the programs, which have a long-term and profound impact on the lives of all Filipinos.

The project started in 2007 and has strengthened the efficiency of the DENR in allocating its limited budget while improving the effectiveness of the delivery of its core functions and services.

The WB project also financed other DENR undertakings such forest boundary delineation, cadastral surveys and the National Greening Program, biodiversity conservation program, soil conservation and watershed and protected areas management, assessment and rehabilitation of abandoned and inactive mine sites, air and water quality improvement, and solid waste management.

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