1st year of sham Manila Bay rehab: Pass the bill declaring Manila Bay as “reclamation-free” zone – Anakpawis

1st year of sham Manila Bay rehab
Pass the bill declaring Manila Bay as “reclamation-free” zone – Anakpawis

Manila, Philippines – As the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) marks the first year of Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program with bragging about lower coliform levels in Manila city bayside, former Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao urged both chambers of congress to pass the House Bill No. 257 Declaring Manila Bay as “Reclamation-Free” Zone, as serious measure for genuine rehabilitation.

“DENR’s claim is so narrow that it could only cite positive indicators on the bay within the city of Manila, when legally it involves a coastline of 190 kilometer and near 200,000 hectares, from Bataan province in the north to Cavite in the South, and they did so cited on their very own Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program,” the former lawmaker said in a press statement.

Also, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu cited that the fecal coliform at the Padre Faura outfall in Manila is down to 920,000 most probable number per 100 milliliter (MPN/100mL), which was the lowest among with at Rajah Sulayman/Remedios drainage and at the Manila Yacht Club outfall, but is far away from its supposed level at 100 MPN/100mL to fall under the Class SB for coastal and marine water, as set by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).

“The agency is celebrating about decline in fecal coliform in less than 3-kilometer bayside, or from Ocampo Street to Kalaw Avenue, when it is less than 2% of the length of the total coastline, while ignoring the bigger issues of reclamation projects in Cavite and Bulacan, which will totally undermine the whole program,” added the lawmaker, who was the primary author of HB 257 during the 17th congress and it is filed under the present congress by lawmakers under the Makabayan coalition.

He stressed that all efforts to rehabilitate the bay would be futile if reclamation projects are carried out or remained unprohibited.

“Reclamation projects will totally undermine what the Supreme Court has ordered, for the people to enjoy the bay and the development of fisheries resources. It is dubious on why the DENR has always kept its mouth shut on these issues,” he slammed.

He also questioned on how could the DENR weigh its program to be on improving the bay or abiding the Supreme Court mandamus to “clean up, restore and rehabilitate Manila Bay,” and even the 2019 Administrative Order No. 16 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte, without any mention on the state of fisheries sector, when the said orders clearly stated that the Department of Agriculture and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Reforms to coordinate with local government units into improve and restore marine life, as crucial step to fisheries and aquatic resources development.

Finally, he criticized the Duterte government for its duplicity amid its issuance of AO 16 as adherence to the Supreme Court mandamus, as it pushed through, promoted and failed to bar reclamation projects such as the Sangley Airport project and the Chinese POGO, the Bacoor Reclamation Project in Cavite and the 2,500-hectare Aerotropolis project in Bulacan.

“The Manila Bay rehab program is doomed from the start due to its unfaithfulness when the Duterte government itself, on one side blabbers to carry out the Supreme Court mandamus, and on the other side, promoting and tolerating reclamation projects that will and destroy the marine environment,” he ended. ###

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