MANILA, Philippines - A bird
sanctuary located along the Parañaque coastal
area will be preserved to become part of a major ecotourism
development to rise on nearby reclaimed lands.
The Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) belied earlier
claims made by an environmental group that the man-made bird
sanctuary would be removed to make way for the reclamation.
“The PRA has always been one with the Manila Bay Critical
Habitat Management Council (MBCHMC) in preserving this critical
habitat. We have secured this place long before its declaration
as a critical habitat.
We will continue to protect it,” Eduardo Destura,
representing the PRA, said in a speech before the council
during Earth Day celebration rites yesterday and the 5th
anniversary celebration of MBCHMC. Destura is currently the
department head of PRA’s Planning and Evaluation.
“PRA, together with its partners and developers will
endeavor to preserve this habitat and prove that progress
and development can work hand-in-hand to protect the environment,” he
Contrary to what others have been saying, Destura stressed
that the mangrove will not be part of the proposed reclamation.
“We shall maintain the integrity of the habitat. Add
to that, it is being considered to be integrated to the overall
development plan for ecotourism purposes.
Together with local government, we intend to enhance this
habitat to make it a more suitable and sustainable sanctuary
birds,” he said.
He further explained that the PRA is a government agency
mandated by law to contribute to the nation’s developmental
goals by creating new lands through the use of scientific
methods and new technology to ensure sustainability.
In recent months, the bird sanctuary, formerly a squatter
colony, had been the subject of debates in media after environmentalists
fearing its removal said this would affect the thousands
birds that breed in it.
The media scrutiny brought to light another issue - the
increased number of bird strikes at Manila’s main airports
nearby. The sanctuary is within the flight path of the Ninoy
Aquino International Airport and Terminals 2 and 3. Of late,
former Las Piñas Rep.
Cynthia Villar, whose family owns one of the country’s
biggest real estate firms, alleged that the reclamation would
bring about floods. However, a thorough study by DHI Water
and Environment of Denmark, an internationally recognized
firm specializing in urban flood management, water utilities,
water resources, coastal engineering, and environmental,
health, and safety risk assessment, refuted the claims.
The Danish study revealed that the project would actually
help mitigate the effects of flooding due to rising sea levels.
Included as key components of the reclamation are: the dredging
of the Parañaque river to increase its depth by two
to three meters; dredging of the Las Piñas/Zapote
river mouths to increase their depth by one to two meters;
removal of a sandbar near the mouth of the Las Piñas
river to improve water flow during heavy rains, and construction
of a 35-meter water channel gate to improve water flow.
It will also involve periodic dredging and the construction
of a retention pond and a floating debris boom that will
reduce the amount of garbage blocking river passageways.
The local governments of Las Piñas and Parañaque
have expressed support for the project that is expected to
boost the economy of, and bring thousands of jobs to, both