By REY G. PANALIGAN
MANILA, Philippines — Urban poor and fishermen organizations asked the Supreme Court (SC) yesterday to stop the government from reclaiming more than 600 hectares of land from the Manila Bay coastline in Las Pinas City, Paranaque City, and Bacoor in Cavite because the project would deprive them of livelihood.
They joined the petition of 315,000 residents of Las Pinas City led by Rep. Cynthia Villar who were able to get a “Writ of Kalikasan” from the SC in April.
But the SC did not issue a temporary environmental protection order (TEPO) that would stop immediately the government from implementing the project.
Named respondents in the Villar group’s petition and in the motion for intervention file yesterday were the Public Reclamation Authority (PRA), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the local governments in Las Pinas and Paranaque Cities, and Alltech Contractors, Inc., the contractor of the P14-billion reclamation project.
Signatories to the motion were the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Anakpawis and Bayan Muna; the 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), Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC-Philippines), Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment, Earth Island Philippines, and the Alliance for Stewardship and Authentic Progress (ASAP).
The groups pleaded for the immediate issuance of a TEPO.
In their motion, the groups told the SC that the Manila Bay reclamation project poses a direct threat to their livelihood since it covers 203 hectares of coastline in Paranaque City and 431 hectares of foreshore waters in Las Pinas City.
“The source of this collective fear is based on the experience of small fishermen, mussel growers and shell gatherers beginning 2010 upon the completion of R-1 Extension Expressway Project which is now known as Cavite Expressway or Cavitex. Two years after the completion of the solid-based road infrastructure done through massive reclamation of not less than 5,000 hectares of foreshore waters along Bacoor Bay, a dramatic decline in fish capture and aquaculture production took place,” they said.
“As such, movants have the right to intervene on the Las Pinas-Paranaque P14- billion reclamation case as their rights would be further been trampled upon, violated and adversely affected by the implementation of the coastal bay project,” they added.
They also told the SC of their declining fish harvest from an average of five kilos to 10 kilos per fishing trip prior to the reclamation and road project to about two kilos of average fish catch due to the negative impact of reclamation and road infrastructure project along Bacoor Bay.
At the same time, they said hundreds of hectares of mussel farms were likewise demolished, causing grave economic difficulties to small and medium scale mussel operators in Bacoor.