By Miko Morelos
The legal battle between Las Piñas City residents and the contractor for the reclamation project beside a bird sanctuary in Manila Bay may put siblings belonging to an influential political clan in the city on opposite sides of the fence.
Supported by over 300,000 residents, former Representative Cynthia Villar is going head-to-head against her brother, City Mayor Vergel Aguilar over issues on The Three Island Reclamation and Development Project proposed by the Philippine Reclamation Authority and Alltech Contractors Inc.
Villar said she had been speaking with her brother to emphasize how critical the project would impact on the city if it pushes through.
“I feel strongly about this,” she said, pointing out that relatives need not be on the same side of an issue at all times. “I hope he (Mayor Aguilar) doesn’t take this personally because we are being professional about it.”
Villar said she told the mayor to be cautious about giving the go signal to the proposal and should be critical of the study the contractor presented to them of which he was the spearhead.
“I told him, ‘Why did the [project] proponent do the study?’” she said. “An independent body should do that.”
The city government appears to have already given its commitment, she said, details of which she did not elaborate.
Seeking an injunction from the Supreme Court through a writ of kalikasan would probably have the city government “renege on their commitments,” she added.
The proposed P14-billion project site sits beside the protected coastal lagoon known as the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, which serves as a sanctuary for migratory birds.
Citing a study, Villar said the reclamation project would impede the flow of water from the Las Piñas and Zapote Rivers, two major tributaries she helped rehabilitate, and would result in the flooding of at least 15 of the city’s 20 barangays (villages).