Government urged to permanently stop Manila Bay reclamation and divulge exempted project
Press Release Date: August 9, 2023
International environmental group, Oceana, welcomes President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s order to suspend the reclamation projects in Manila Bay. However, it urges the President to permanently stop these ecologically devastating projects not only in Manila Bay but also the entire country. Oceana also urges the President to reveal to the public the one project which got a special exemption and the reasons for its exemption from the President’s order suspending reclamation in Manila Bay.
“We welcome President Marcos Jr.’s wisdom-filled decision in stepping in and suspending the reclamation projects in Manila Bay. However, we urge the President to permanently stop these projects as they put in peril food security, violate our constitutional rights to a healthy, balanced, safe and resilient environment and the rights of artisanal fisherfolks and coastal communities to access their fishing grounds and livelihoods. We are also alarmed by the exemption of one project that was not divulged in his statement. This project should be revealed to the public so that civil society groups, fisherfolk, science and academe, and other key stakeholders can validate the reported review that merited its exemption,” said Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Oceana’s Vice President.
Oceana earlier called to stop the previously approved reclamation projects while the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is doing the cumulative impact assessment as Environment Secretary Antonia Loyzaga declared in another press briefing last week.
“We call on the government to immediately take measures to permanently stop these projects that have started, as we speak, that led to an alarming degradation of the environment destroying the mangroves, denying fisherfolk of their fishing livelihood and sources of food, and the destruction of seagrass and the seabed by dredging, thus impeding better habitats and spawning grounds of fisheries resources. This is simply unjust and unacceptable,” Ramos added.
As of February 28, 2023, the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) lists a total of 52 reclamation ongoing projects in the country, including the project in Coron that has been forfeited by the government. Of this number, 22 projects are located in Manila Bay, and half of these or 11 are already underway. Outside of Manila Bay, the PRA lists a total of 30 projects – 14 were approved plus Coron; and 15 applications under Executive Order 74 with memoranda of understanding.
The projects were approved despite the fact that Manila Bay has been identified as a Key Biodiversity Area by the DENR and other groups. It is a rich sardine spawning ground as shown by the data from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (BFAR-NFRDI). It is also serves as an important habitat for millions of migratory birds from the northern hemisphere.
“The proposed projects, such as dump-and-fill (reclamation) must be thoroughly assessed and closely monitored to determine their inherent risks to environment, climate, culture, and health, especially of local communities. Anyone who violates environmental impact assessment laws and regulations that are already in place faces administrative, civil, or criminal sanctions. It is even more disheartening to see our coastal communities, particularly the artisanal fisherfolk and their families being displaced from their food and livelihood even before the project was approved,” explained Ramos.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-quarter of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 275 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, oil and plastic pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles, whales, and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit Oceana.org and ph.oceana.org to learn more.
For More Information:
Joyce Sierra, Communications Manager, Oceana
Mobile: 09178214430 E-mail: email@example.com