MANILA, Philippines – Twelve cause-oriented groups representing fisherfolk, urban poor, church and health associations, environmental alliances and non-government organizations yesterday filed an urgent motion before the Supreme Court (SC) to allow them to act as petitioners in the case filed by former Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar and more than 300,000 city residents against the P14-billion Manila Bay reclamation project.
The organizations opposing the project are the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) represented by Fernando Hicap and Salvador France, Anakpawis and Bayan Muna party-list led by Representatives Rafael Mariano and Teodoro Casiño, respectively, Koalisyon Kontra Kumbersyon ng Manila Bay (KKK-Manila Bay), the Bacoor-based Alyansa fisherfolk group, Pamalakaya-Bulacan chapter, Sagip Manila Bay Movement (SMBM), Save Freedom Island Movement (SFIM), the Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC-Philippines), the Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment, Earth Island Philippines and the Alliance for Stewardship and Authentic Progress (ASAP).
Named respondents were Public Reclamation Authority (PRA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), city government of Las Piñas and Alltech Contractors Inc.
The groups argued that the P14-billion reclamation project involving 203.43 hectares of Parañaque coastal territory and 431.71 hectares of Las Piñas territory is a major threat to the livelihood of fishermen sourcing their income from the Manila Bay.
Last March 16, Villar asked the High Tribunal to stop the reclamation project, saying this may impede the natural river flow in Las Piñas, destroy the remaining 175-hectare mangrove forest and marine habitat in the cities of Las Piñas and Parañaque and cause flooding in many barangays.
The firm, All Tech Contractors Inc., is pursuing the reclamation of 635 hectares of foreshore areas in Manila Bay, which is beside the 175-hectare protected mangroves, lagoons and ponds known as the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area.
Bird sanctuary transfer eyed
Meanwhile, the Aquino government is considering transferring the bird sanctuary near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) as airlines are up in arms over bird strikes that endanger the safety of airline passengers.
Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said on the sidelines of the Asian Carriers’ Conference in Mactan, Cebu that the mangrove forest along Coastal Road in Las Piñas would be closed and transferred if proven that the area poses a threat to aircraft coming in and out of NAIA.
“The safety of passengers is paramount. It would be closed and transferred. That is what is likely going to happen,” he said.
Several airlines led by flag carrier Philippine Airlines and AirAsia have been complaining about the prevalence of birds around the airport, posing risk to millions of airline passengers.
However, Jimenez clarified that agencies led by the DENR and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) would still have to determine whether the birds in the sanctuary along Coastal Road affect aircraft coming in and out of NAIA. – With Lawrence Agcaoili - By Sandy Araneta