Press Release
October 16, 2013

Villar asks Congress to review power of PRA to approve harmful
reclamation projects

Sen. Cynthia Villar today asked her colleagues in the Senate to rethink the powers given to the agency tasked to approve reclamation projects which are environmentally unsound and potentially dangerous to residents of nearby communities, as cited by various studies.

In a privilege speech at the Senate, Villar said the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) has approved a National Reclamation Program (NRP) covering a total of 102 reclamation projects over a total area of 38,272 hectares within Manila Bay, Visayas and Mindanao.

Villar said the 38 projects of the total 102 reclamation projects under the NRP will involve 26,234 hectares in Manila Bay alone.

"That is 70 percent of the entire NRP. They are building another Metro Manila in Manila Bay," Villar said.

Villar cited the call for a moratorium on reclamation projects under the NRP adopted by the People's Summit on Reclamation held in October 2012 at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, which was attended by experts from relevant fields.

"They said NRP was adopted without a genuine stakeholders consultation, in gross violation of the right of citizens to participate in decision making, without rigorous scientific assessment of the environmental risks and impacts by reclamation projects, and without transparency in concerned government agencies," she said.

Citing studies, Villar said the NRP threatens to affect an equivalent of one-tenth of coastal and marine habitats and could potentially translate to a loss of a value of nearly P30 billion per year in seagrass goods and ecosystems alone.

"Land reclamation is noted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization as an irreversible form of environmental degradation, thus running counter to the State's guarantee to provide its citizens with a 'healthful and balanced ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature' and 'protect the rights of subsistence fishermen, especially of local communities,'" she added.

Villar has been vigorously opposing the Manila Bay reclamation project, which endangers the lives of residents of Cavite, Paranaque and Las Pinas, who could be subjected to severe flooding.

She added that residents are opposed to the reclamation of the 635.14-hectare of Manila Bay, around the 175-hectare Las Piñas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA).

The LPPCHEA is a protected area by virtue of Presidential Proclamation Nos. 1412 and 1412-A and included in the Ramsar list of wetlands of international importance, along with Tubbataha and the Palawan Underground River.

Villar recently elevated to the Supreme Court her petition against Alltech Contractors, the PRA, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the concerned local government units of Las Piñas and Parañaque in the said reclamation project.

The petition was supported by 315,849 signatures of Las Piñas residents.

Villar, chairman of the Senate Committee on Government-Controlled Corporations and Public Enterprises, also filed Proposed Senate Resolution 294, seeking a review of the mandate of PRA and an assessment of the exercise of its powers.

"It is true and unfortunate that we treat reclamation as normal. As if destroying coasts and digging up sea beds are all part for the course, we have a reclamation authority who thinks only of which coastline to dump into next," she said.

News Latest News Feed