12:35 am | Sunday, April 1st, 2012
The diocese of Parañaque has joined the mounting opposition to the Three Island Reclamation and Development Project, which a number of Las Piñas residents campaigned against earlier this month, saying it would usher in environmental disasters, among other problems.
During a protest march on Friday attended by Parañaque residents and fisher folk groups, Msgr. Mel David of the diocese’s Commission on Human Protection cautioned authorities against pushing through with the project in light of the various calamities which took place in the last months.
“If it pushes through, it will create an imbalance in the ecosystem, deprive people of their livelihood and bring in floods to our city,” he told the Inquirer. “We should not aim for that. We should not sacrifice nature in exchange for progress.”
Some 200 residents, including workers at the Bulungan fishing wharf at Barangay La Huerta, voiced out their opposition by staging the “Kalbaryo sa Kalikasan at Kabuhayan,” a procession marking the 14 Stations of the Cross set up from St. Andrew’s Cathedral to the coastal lagoon.
Dr. Joseph Carabeo, co-convenor of the Alliance for Stewardship and Authentic Progress, criticized the project, saying it would put thousands of Parañaque residents in danger.
The reclamation project “will endanger the remaining healing ecosystem of Manila Bay. It will block the natural waterways, causing flooding and immeasurable damage to lives and property in the whole District 1 of Parañaque,” he said.
According to former Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar, the 635-ha reclamation project in Manila Bay will impede the natural river flow in her city, destroy a natural habitat for migratory birds and cause flooding in dozens of barangays.
She has asked the Supreme Court to stop the project by granting her petition for the issuance of a writ of kalikasan.
Friday’s mass action had been planned since last month. It was announced during the celebration of the People Power anniversary, according to David. The rally was meant to give “new dimension to the term People Power.”
The Church draws its strength from its members who have different frames of experience, the priest explained.
“One could feel the unity of the Church through its members and their unifying experience,” he added, referring to their opposition to the reclamation project.
At the same time, fisher folk groups blamed on the Aquino government’s Public-Private Partnership or PPP program the adverse effects of the reclamation project.
The Pangisda and Dampa/ Lupa Parañaque and Las Piñas chapters also used the acronym PPP to describe the bad effects: Pagkasira ng pangisdaan at kapaligiran (destruction of fishing areas and the environment), Pagtaboy sa paninirahan (displacing residents) and Pagbaha (flooding).
Villar earlier commissioned a hydrological study which simulated typhoon scenarios and factored in the impact of the reclamation project. It found out that since the reclaimed land would impede the natural flow of water, flooding in the two cities was imminent and could rise to as high as five meters.
This would submerge 17 barangays in Las Piñas and 11 barangays in Parañaque.
While acknowledging the potential revenue that could be generated from the project, Villar pointed out that the damage brought about by flooding would likely outweigh the benefits.
“Can you put a price on a life lost in a flood that could have been prevented in the first place?” she said, alluding to the over 1,000 deaths recorded during the destruction caused by Tropical Storm “Sendong” in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities.