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Scientists seek probe into reclamation projects

Gaea Katreena Cabico – Philstar.com

October 12, 2022 | 4:27pm

MANILA, Philippines — A group of scientists called on the Senate to investigate various reclamation projects across the archipelago after Senator Cynthia Villar lashed out at the environment department over dump-and-fill projects in Manila Bay.

Villar, who chairs the Senate committee on environment, natural resources, and climate change, fumed and cursed at officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources over reclamation projects. She said these would cause flooding in her home city of Las Piñas.

Jerwin Baure, public information officer and resident marine scientist of AGHAM, urged Villar to not just look into reclamation projects in southern Manila Bay, but also in other areas in the country.

There are 187 reclamation projects across the archipelago, according to a master list of approved, pending, and ongoing dump-and-fill ventures of the Philippine Reclamation Authority.

At least 30 projects are in Manila Bay, while 19 projects are recorded in Negros Occidental, 15 in Panay island, 19 in Cebu and Bohol and 25 in Eastern Visayas. The list does not include the Bulacan aerotropolis and the Dumaguete reclamation projects.

SPECIAL REPORTFed by the waters

Social, environment costs

“We’ve been warning against these projects for years due to their negative environmental and social implications,” Baure said in a release. 

“Senator Villar should lead a probe [into] the negative impacts brought by these reclamation projects. The destruction of mangrove forests, seagrass beds and coral reefs will lead to food insecurity,” he added.

Fisherfolk and scientists have long stressed that reclamation projects will disturb coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, coral reefs and seagrass beds.

Large-scale dump-and-fill projects may also result in flooding, land subsidence and liquefaction. Such ventures also threaten the livelihood of fisherfolk and fish supply.

READ: For former Taliptip folk, houses of concrete and worry over how to eat

Urgent action needed

Fishers group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) said it is disappointed with DENR chief Ma. Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga for “not attending to the concerns” of fisherfolk and coastal residents on the social and environmental cost of reclamation projects.

The organization said it has sought a dialogue with Yulo-Loyzaga on the issue to no avail.

AGHAM also urged the new DENR leadership to treat the issue with utmost urgency.

“Sec. Yulo-Loyzaga should immediately order the suspension and investigation of these reclamation projects that are destroying our coastal ecosystems in Manila Bay,” it said. 

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