Fish kills proves Duterte’s Manila Bay rehabilitation is a sham – Anakpawis
Manila, Philippines – The recent fish kills in Manila Bay are undisputed proof that the much-plugged Manila Bay rehabilitation by the Duterte administration early this year is all sham, but was an instrument to displace more than 200,000 informal settler families in Metro Manila, Calabarzon and Central Luzon. This was according to former lawmaker and Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao in a press statement. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) blames pollution due to high amounts of ammonia and phosphate in the water for the low levels of oxygen leading to the fish kills.
“If there was a decisive carrying out of the Manila Bay rehabilitation, these incidents of fish kills could have been avoided. The BFAR, instead of narrowing down the list of possible suspects, it squeezes all agricultural, industrial, domestic sectors, and even green spaces,” Casilao said.
He said that it is very unlikely that the government, or at least the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is clueless on the cause, when they have supposedly inventoried all the establishments and the types of wastes they might discharge towards the Manila Bay.
“To date, what is apparent is that the Manila Bay rehabilitation program only meant cleaning up of the coasts and demolition of informal settler communities, there was no talk of fishery resources development, which was also cited by the Supreme Court mandamus,” he added.
The Supreme Court mandamus order government agencies to rehabilitate the waters of Manila Bay to classification SB, which is actually for recreation and fisheries development, as per DENR 1990 Department Order No. 34.
“The SC ordered the local government units and BFAR to coordinate for fishery resources development, but the exact opposite is being carried out, such as the proposed reclamation projects in Bulacan and Bacoor,” he cited.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is promoting the San Miguel Corp. (SMC) Aerotropolis project in Bulacan, while the Bacoor city government pushes the Bacoor Reclamation and Development Project. He said that the DENR is being exposed as hyping one aspect of the SC mandamus, but is totally helpless to the more fundamental issue of reclamation projects, that will totally undermine the goals of the decision.
Casilao was the staunch opposition of reclamation projects in Manila Bay during the 17th congress that he authored the House Bill 8512 or Manila Bay as “Reclamation-Free” Zone. It is re-filed by lawmakers under the Makabayan bloc this congress as HB 257. He expressed support to the people’s campaign of Pamalakaya-Pilipinas and opposition of fisher folk communities against the said reclamation projects.
“We warn BFAR and the DENR against blaming the incidents to poor communities, who they plan to displace. These fish kills are more serious than any impact domestic waste could cause,” he said.
Finally, he urged house members who sincerely aim the genuine execution of the Manila Bay rehabilitation to push for an inquiry on the real-time status of the program and concrete relationships to the fish kill incidents.
“We have witnessed that if government agencies take lead to such programs, we end up disappointed. This must motivate us to actively involve to the issue and demand the genuine rehabilitation of Manila Bay,” he ended urging the people. ###