Press Release
December 1, 2013

Villar asks NEDA to review reclamation projects approved by PRA

Sen. Cynthia Villar today welcomes the signing of an executive order delegating the power to approve reclamation projects to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

Executive Order No. 146 was signed by President Aquino on November 13, limiting the power of the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) to the processing, evaluating and recommending the approval of all proposed reclamation projects to the NEDA Board.

"I trust that NEDA will perform stricter scrutiny of projects being proposed for reclamation. In approving these projects, we should not be guided by how much revenue this will generate but by the extent of its effects on people and the environment," Villar said.

In a privilege speech last month, Villar has asked the Senate to rethink the powers given to PRA, which approved "environmentally unsound and potentially dangerous to residents of nearby communities reclamation projects."

"I ask NEDA to review the National Reclamation Program (NRP) approved by the PRA and consult all stakeholders and experts on how this will impact on the people's welfare and on the environment," Villar said.

Villar also asks NEDA to take into consideration the call for a moratorium on reclamation projects under the NRP, which was adopted by the People's Summit on Reclamation held as early as October 2012 at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

"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.

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.

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