11:06 pm | Friday, February 24th, 2012
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About 38,000 hectares of coastal land in the country would
be swallowed up by new real estate and commercial projects
that seek to copy reclamation projects in Singapore and Hong
Kong, a document from the Philippine Reclamation Authority
A December 2011 letter from the agency to the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said there are 102 reclamation
projects covering 38,000 ha in the country under the Aquino administration’s
private-public partnership program. Of that number, 38 are located
in the coast of Manila Bay. These projects encompass 26,234 ha.
There are seven projects in Cebu with 6,000 ha, while another
seven constituting 238 ha are slated in the Davao Gulf. The PRA
said 50 projects are scattered in other provinces such as Albay,
Iloilo and Leyte, covering 5,000 ha.
The plan to use the coastal areas for commercial projects was
approved by the Cabinet economic cluster last year, the PRA said.
According to the document, the economic managers recognized the “huge
potential investments” that the projects could generate.
It cited the successes of Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan, which
developed their harbors and coasts into commercial areas.
Various environmental groups have hit the government’s
plan to create new land from sea for real estate and commercial
purposes saying it destroys ecosystems and displaces fishermen.
It also heightens threats like storm surges.
The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines and Pamalakaya, a progressive
group for fishermen, have challenged plans to cover parts of
the Manila Bay with soil.
In a statement yesterday, Pamalakaya urged the DENR, which has
directed the concerns of PRA to its regional offices, to stop
the reclamation project for the sake of the endangered bird species
and the livelihood of fishermen along the coast.
“Public interest compels the DENR to refrain from issuing
clearances to these reclamation activities the PRA want to undertake
on a nationwide scale,” Pamalakaya chair Fernando Hicap
Some 3,500 small fisherfolk and their families in Pasay Reclamation
Area and another 3,000 coastal and urban poor families along
the coastal shores of Parañaque were evicted by the government
of former President Fidel Ramos in the early 1990s to give way
to reclamation projects, Pamalakaya said.
The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines previously expressed fears
that the large-scale reclamation projects in Manila would destroy
mangroves and wetlands that are home to endangered bird species
like the Chinese egret and Philippine ducks.
Last year, the World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines called
for the protection of the Davao Gulf in Mindanao.
Raising an alarm over the unregulated and intrusive man-made
and industrial activities in the gulf, WWF said Davao Gulf has
one of the highest marine mammal diversity in the country and
is part of the Coral Triangle.
The organization stressed that the gulf is a breeding and nursery
ground for small and large pelagic species. It is also frequented
by whale sharks, dugong and leatherback turtles.