Fishers file complaint vs Bacoor mayor over Manila Bay reclamation projects
MANILA, Philippines — A fisherfolk group filed a complaint against Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla of Bacoor City before the Office of the Ombudsman over the proposed 420-hectare reclamation projects in Cavite, which are feared to displace some 700 families.
In the complaint, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas alleged that Mercado violated the 2008 Supreme Court mandamus to “clean-up, restore and rehabilitate” Manila Bay and the administrative order expediting the restoration of the waterway through the reclamation of fish ponds and mangroves.
“She makes the Manila Bay rehabilitation program of the Duterte government a sham. She should have been coordinating with the Department of Agriculture and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to develop the fishing industry of her city but she is on the opposite and destructive path of reclamation,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA national chairperson, said.
The twin reclamation projects in the city are the Bacoor Reclamation and Development Project that consist of 320-hectare islands, and the Diamond Reclamation and Development Project, a 100-hectare island executed via a public-private partnership.
The Bacoor City government said the reclamation projects are expected to address flooding and facilitate the resettlement of families living along 10 coastal villages.
But fishermen stressed that the land-filling of fish ponds with solid materials mixed with garbage is threatening the remaining mangrove forests in the coastal city.
Mangrove areas are important not only because they provide breeding grounds for marine species but they also protect coastal communities from waves and cyclones, according to environmental group Oceana Philippines.
PAMALAKAYA vowed to “contest and stop these environmentally and fishery devastating projects in Bacoor City and in the entire Manila Bay in the parliament of the streets, in any appropriate court or forum and in the court of public opinion.”
Over the weekend, President Rodrigo Duterte rejected any private sector initiated reclamation projects. The chief executive, however, said he would allow reclamation activities in Manila Bay only if in connection with a government project.
Around 10,000 hectares from Navotas City to Cavite would be covered by the 25 proposed reclamation projects. — with a report from BusinessWorld