Press Release
May 12, 2021

Statement of Sen. Ralph Recto On the Vaccination Site in the Manila Bay Reclamation Area

The trees will not be chainsawed by illegal loggers, but the lot on which they stand will be used for a facility that will protect millions of lives.

On a per square meter basis, the property will benefit thousands of people. It is a social project that packs enough "goodwill density" to justify the lot being used to meet a public emergency.

Yes, the trees there serve as urban lungs. But what also cannot be denied is that the lifesaving facility that will be built serves the same purpose, to protect people from getting COVID so they won't be gasping for air on the driveways of overwhelmed hospitals.

But the replace-the tree-you-cut policy can be applied to the case at hand.

There are billions of pesos in the 2021 national budget that could replace the trees on the Nayong Pilipino property in more numbers than what will be cut.

There's the P3.158 billion budget of the National Greening Program (NGP), which, based on DENR costing, will be good for 44.6 million seedlings.

There is also the P1.553 billion for the implementation of DENR's "Operational Plan for Manila Bay Coastal Management Program." This is the source of the "Manila Bay Sands" project.

DENR's mega billions for NGP can fund the establishment of a green belt in the area, including mangroves as the latter is in NGP's approved menu of projects. Or it can reforest a wide swath of the denuded Marikina watershed in honor of the Nayong Pilipino trees which were sacrificed so people may live.

The DENR's budget for Manila Bay's rehabilitation, on the other hand, can bankroll a mangrove planting project, which many experts argue is a better rehabilitation material than imported sand.

Kung nakakapagtanim nga ng buhangin sa dalampasigan ng Manila Bay, bakit hindi kayang magtanim ng puno at mangroves sa lugar na malapit doon?

Sa bawat Ipil-Ipil na pinutol sa lote ng Nayong Pilipino, kayang-kayang pondohan ang 100 na kapalit.

Pwede ngang isang milyong puno, o isa sa bawat Pilipinong tinamaan ng COVID. Ang punto ko, mayroong compensation fund kung kakailanganin.

The NPF property is the rally point of a massive counterattack against the deadly virus. Let it be the staging area of the science that will defeat the pandemic and save us all.

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