End reclamation, push for a genuine rehabilitation in Manila Bay!

January 28, 2020

One year ago, the Duterte Administration kicked-off its 47 billion-peso Manila Bay rehabilitation program. While the endeavor appears promising, the authenticity of the so-called rehabilitation remains a question as the government has failed to stop environmentally destructive activities along the bay. Reclamation schemes that pose serious damage to the ecosystem are ongoing. Business outfits that enforce such projects are still inculpable.

According to the Philippine Reclamation Authority, 19 Manila Bay reclamation projects covering about 10,000 hectares are on the stage of development, with Cavite housing the two largest sites. These have resulted in the cutting of mangroves which are spawning grounds of fish, have endangered seagrasses and other marine organisms, and have perturbed wetlands. In his pronouncement, Duterte said that he will not permit reclamation proposals, but ironically, just on December last year, 4 pending projects received the government’s greenlight.

Fisherfolk communities within the borders of Manila Bay bear the massive burden. In Bacoor, Cavite, more than 300,000 individuals face displacement and loss of livelihood due to the reclamation funded by Frabelle Fishing Corporation. In Taliptip, Bulacan, San Miguel Corp. recently inaugurated the establishment of a 2,000-hectare aerotropolis. The military has stricken terror to force out residents in a desperate move to railroad the construction. Last Friday, January 24, agents of the 48th Infantry Battalion once again agitated fear in Sitio Kinse.

Amidst all these, the fisherfolk have constantly stood at the frontline of environmental defense. They have amplified their calls to save the bay, and have been tirelessly pressuring the administration to carry out genuine restoration through dialogues, lobbying and street mobilizations. To no avail, the government stays heedless to their demands. But with the support of the wider mass movement, environmental organizations and youth, the people’s outcry strives to intensify.

Now is the time for the Duterte Administration to clear up the stench it has caused Manila Bay by executing a well-planned, scientific rehabilitation that regards the people’s rights to their homes, livelihood and natural resources. Only through disapproving and ending reclamation activities can the best rehabilitation effort be actualized.