Press Release
November 19, 2013


"They will be building another Metro Manila in Manila Bay," said Senator Cynthia Villar as she urged to stop the reclamation of Manila Bay.

Villar told her colleagues in Congress that If "we cannot save the very ecosystems which provide our people their daily provisions and protect them from catastrophic natural disasters, then we are basically denying our fellow Filipinos of their basic constitutional rights and give our people their right to a balanced and healthful ecology."

She called on senators and congressmen to rethink the purposes, and revisit the powers of the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), which has the sole authority over reclamation projects.

"I believe that this esteemed body, or us as legislators, need to be informed and updated about the extent of reclamation, those that will be undertaken in the near future and those in the pipeline. After all, these reclamation projects will affect our constituents. Those planned for Metro Manila will have far-reaching impact on several nearby provinces of Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan," she said.

Under National Reclamation Programs (NRP), she said 70% or 26,234 hectares of the 38,000 National Reclamation Plan all over the country will be implemented in Manila Bay area.

At present, there are 102 reclamation projects and 38 of them encompass the Manila Bay area alone or 70% of the entire NRP.

"Of all people, we do not want to be remiss in this government plan, the NRP, that will affect not only majority of Filipinos, but will also create an impact in the very communities that we live in," said the senator.

Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises, earlier filed Senate Resolution 294 to review the PRA's mandate as a government-owned and controlled corporation.

"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," noted Villar.

She renewed her opposition to the proposed reclamation of the 635.14-hectare of Manila Bay, around the 175-hectare Las Piñas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA), a protected area included in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of international importance, along with Tubbataha Reef and the Palawan Underground River.

Groups opposed to the reclamation said the national government should seriously rethink the policy for reclamations and the PRA's mission.

Instead of adding new areas that cannot be sustained, they said the national government and local government units (LGUs) should focus on improving sustainability and resilience of Metro Manila.

Also, the Office of the President and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) should redirect efforts to building an equitable and exclusive society decentralizing development to other hubs around the country.

The groups warned further reclamation will also effectively block the natural pathways of the river systems flowing into the Bay, increasing the threats of widespread flooding.

It was reported that danger of storm surge and storm waves caused by typhoon is one of the three geological reasons why reclamation is a very bad idea that poses lethal risks to many people.

This was experienced during typhoon Pedring in 2011 in Manila and the recent super typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban City and in other areas in the Eastern Visayas region.

"You heard and saw what happened with the sea walls on Roxas Boulevard when we were hit by typhoon Pedring in 2011. Structures, even those in the U.S. Embassy, were damaged while the mangroves we planted protected us from the storm surges," pointed out the senator.

"We have also lost 75.6% of mangroves in the past 82 years. We all know that a thriving mangrove cover is one of the best indications of a healthy environment or if nature can still support life in an area. They are the most effective tool against storm surges, more effective than seawall or cemented fences," she further stated.

She said the staggering death toll, the immense damage to property and livelihood, and the continuous trauma and hardships being experienced by the survivors brought about by Yolanda have caused so much grief desolation, and torment not only to Filipinos, but also, to the international community.

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