Press Release
August 28, 2013

Villar to Elevate Petition vs Reclamation of Manila Bay to the Supreme Court
After Court of Appeals junked her motion for reconsideration

Senator Cynthia Villar will elevate the case she filed against the planned P14-billion Manila Bay reclamation project to the Supreme Court, after the Court of Appeals (CA) issued a ruling upholding its decision to deny her earlier petition.

The CA's Third Division, in a resolution dated August 14, junked anew Villar's motion for reconsideration of their decision dated April 26 when the court denied Villar's petition for the issuance of a writ of kalikasan and a temporary protection order to stop Alltech Contractors, the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and the concerned local government units (LGUs) from proceeding with the reclamation project.

"We believe in the merits of my petition. And as I have pointed out even before, we would exhaust all legal means available or possible in pursuing our petition. At this point, the next recourse is to elevate it to the Supreme Court," said Villar.

To recall, Villar asked the Court of Appeals to reconsider its April 26 decision which junked her petition to stop a massive Manila Bay reclamation project that could potentially cause severe flooding in a number of barangays in Bacoor, Paranaque and Las Piñas. Villar filed the 40-page 'Motion for Reconsideration', through her lawyer Frank Chavez, on May 14, 2013.

CA cited in its decision, penned by Associate Justice Apolinario Bruselas and released over the weekend that: "Villar failed to raise new matters of substance in her motion which may warrant either modification or a reversal of the decision." Associate Justices Rebecca De Guia-Salvador and Samuel Gaerlan concurred with the ruling.

Villar then implored the appellate court "to review and assess what is a palpably erroneous disposition of the case" and "to reconsider and set aside its decision dated 26 April 2013" on three main grounds, namely:

(1) The issuance of an ECC (Environmental Compliance Certificate) for the proposed coastal bay project was not in accordance with applicable laws, rules and regulations and, hence illegal and unlawful;

(2) The proposed coastal bay project impinges on the viability and sustainability of the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA); and

(3) The proposed coastal bay project shall cause environmental damage of such magnitude, as to prejudice the life, health or property of residents of the cities of Las Piñas and Parañaque.

While the appellate court cited in its latest decision that the threat of massive flooding "had been scientifically examined and determined to be non-existent to negligible at worst", Villar maintains that residents of the 65 barangays face threats of experiencing massive flooding as a consequence of the project, even worse than the levels experienced at the height of the devastation of typhoon Maring just last week.

"The level of flooding that occurred in Las Piñas, Parañaque, and Cavite even prior to reclamation--which placed the cities and the province in state of calamity, is a clear indication that the flooding could only worsen after reclamation. Scientists and environmentalists have been issuing warnings against destruction of coastal habitats, why are we not taking heed of those?" said Villar.

Recently the World Bank published the results of a scientific analysis by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics, it cited that in South East Asia, coastal cities will be under intense stress due to climate change. "Warmer water temperatures and habitat destruction could also lead to a 50 percent decrease in the ocean fish catch in the southern Philippines" the report cited.

"I still believe that the proposed Manila Bay reclamation project will bring about catastrophic results--including the damage to the bird sanctuary as well as to the mangrove forest and marine habitat. The worst of which, is that it will cause severe flooding in 37 barangays in Bacoor, 11 in Paranaque and 17 in Las Piñas. Floods with a depth of as much as 5.12 meters or equivalent to a two-storey high building," said Villar. Background:

Villar filed a petition for Writ of Kalikasan on March 16 against the Las Piñas-Parañaque Coastal Bay project, which the Supreme Court granted on April 10 last year. Respondents in Villar's petition are ALLTECH Contractors , Inc. , the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) and the cities of Las Pinas, Paranaque and Bacoor.

Villar's petition submitted to the SC was supported by the signatures of 315,849 Las Piñas residents who signified their opposition to the project. She also attached in her petition the findings of a hydrological services consultant to bolster her claim of massive flooding with the reclamation project.

In the petition, it was shown that the planned 635.14-hectare Manila Bay reclamation project that is poised to affect the LPPCHEA, which had been recently included on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.

LPPCHEA serves as a sanctuary to migratory bird species from as far as Siberia. According to the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, the entire Metro Manila is host to 150 species of birds, 72 of which are found at LPPCHEA. LPPCHEA is the only bird sanctuary located in an urban setting. Because of its biodiversity, LPPCHEA was declared as a critical habitat in 2007 by Proclamation Nos. 1412 and 1412-A.

Ramsar Convention cited on its website that LPPCHEA "faces threats" such as "ongoing land reclamation projects and mangrove cutting", and "waste from nearby cities (that) accumulates along the coast"

LPPCHEA is the sixth Philippine site designated as 'Wetlands of International Importance', the others on the list are: the Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park in Sulu (listed on December 11, 1999); the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary (listed on December 11, 1999); the Naujan Lake National Park in Oriental Mindoro (listed on December 11, 1999); the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Cebu (listed on January 7, 1994); and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in Palawan (listed on June 30, 2012).

The Convention on Wetlands--signed in Ramsar, Iran on 1971-- is an intergovernmental treaty that embodies the commitments of its member countries to maintain the ecological character of their Wetlands of International Importance and to plan for the "wise use", or sustainable use, of all of the wetlands in their territories.

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