ANGELES CITY – At least three groups have asked President Aquino to revoke what they said was a “midnight” administrative order issued by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo two weeks before she stepped down from the presidency in 2010.
Administrative Order (AO) 288 signed by Arroyo on June 10, 2010, authorized a reclamation project in Pampanga Bay that the groups said would cause massive flooding in Central Luzon and even parts of Metro Manila.
The AO created an inter-agency body that would facilitate the comprehensive study and planning of an integrated development project in Pampanga Bay.
In a joint statement, the Koalisyon Kontra Kombersyon ng Manila Bay (KKKMB), the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and the Anakpawis party-list group said AO 288 “places Pampanga Bay as potential site for a reclamation project covering an area of 2,500 hectares.”
“Malacañang should not honor a midnight administrative order which now threatens the livelihood of marginalized fisherfolk and poor farmers along Pampanga Bay going through the mouth of Manila Bay,” the groups said.
They said the AO involved a plan to construct dikes along two major river systems “to define the boundaries of river banks and create land strips with an average width of not less than 100 meters and extending from the town proper of Lubao and Sasmuan towns up to the Pampanga Bay.”
“The dikes were also to provide areas for road right of way and for human settlements of mixed land uses following a linear type of development,” the groups said.
The AO did not cite any flood-control consideration in the project, they said.
The AO identified government agencies such as the Philippine Reclamation Authority and the provincial and municipal governments of Pampanga as the project’s implementing agencies.
Named as “support agencies” were the departments of Public Works and Highways, Environment and Natural Resources, Tourism and Health, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and the Philippine Ports Authority.
In their statement, the three protesting groups warned that the reclamation project “will result not only in demolition and destruction of livelihood and fishing villages, but will also cause a great deluge in Central Luzon.”
“The reclamation is basically an obstruction. It will submerge Pampanga, Bulacan and several portions of the National Capital Region in times of heavy rains brought about by frequent typhoons and tropical depression,” they said.
They added: “The government is inviting a major catastrophe with its reclamation project in Pampanga Bay. It promises juicy commissions for government officials but will bring disaster to the people and the environment in Central Luzon.”
At least 20 million people living in areas near Manila Bay, both in Central Luzon and Metro Manila, will be affected, they added.
Pamalakaya and Anakpawis said they would seek a congressional inquiry into AO 288 and are even considering petitioning the Supreme Court for a writ of kalikasan against the project.
Pamalakaya said 80 houses in Macabebe and 562 houses in Masantol, both in Pampanga, and 12 houses in Hagonoy, Bulacan were recently demolished apparently in connection with the project. - By Ding Cervantes