Villar rejects plan to build $13-B Mla Bay airport

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Cynthia Villar appealed to the incoming administration of president-elect Rodrigo Duterte not to pursue the proposed reclamation of Manila Bay as a site for a new international airport.

Villar, a known advocate of environmental protection, said the reclamation of Manila Bay would destroy the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Eco-Tourism Area (LPPCHEA). On March 16, 2012 Villar filed before the Supreme Court a petition or writ of kalikasan.

“I appeal to president-elect Duterte to look beyond the claim of decongesting existing airports and realize that the planned reclamation will cause flooding as high as eight meters in Parañaque, Las Piñas and Cavite. It will also deprive 300,000 fishermen of their livelihood,” Villar said.

“Attracting tourists and investors should not be proposed at the expense of the Constitutionally-guaranteed rights of citizens for a safe and secure environment to live in,” she added.

Villar lamented that the airport project was being resurrected after San Miguel Corp.’s proposal to build a new airport in Manila Bay did not push through during the Aquino administration.

She issued this statement after re-elected Parañaque Mayor Edwin Olivarez urged the incoming administration to push through with the proposed $13-billion international airport in Manila Bay.

Under the plan, the proposed airport will make use of 157 hectares of Freedom Island. Villar pointed out that contrary to the claim of Olivarez, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), proposed the Sangley Point in Cavite as a viable site of the airport and not Manila Bay in Parañaque.

Villar cited the 2002 ruling of the Supreme Court, which struck down the Public Estates Authority (PEA)-Amari deal as unconstitutional. The ruling stated that private companies cannot own reclaimed lands.

LPPCHEA is a declared critical habitat and a protected area by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 1412 and 1412-A in 2007. It is the first critical habitat to be declared in the country. Covering around 175 hectares of wetland ecosystem, LPPCHEA consists of two islands – Freedom Island and Long Island.

In March 2013, it was also listed as a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention because of the critical role it plays in the survival of threatened and restricted-range bird species.  It is the only wetland in Metro Manila and in an urban setting.

The five other Philippine sites in the list are: the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in Palawan, the Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park in Sulu; the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, the Naujan Lake National Park in Oriental Mindoro; and the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Cebu.

LPPCHEA’s 35 hectare mangrove forest is the thickest and most diverse within Manila Bay. At present, there are 11 mangrove species growing in the area. It is the spawning ground of fishes in Manila Bay which gives livelihood to 300,000 poor fishermen and related livelihood.

The mangrove forest is also home and known breeding area of the Philippine Ducks, Chinese Egret and Black-Winged Stilts vulnerable species as listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources along with 82 other wild bird species coming from as far as China, Japan and Siberia. About 1,000 of the Black-Winged Stilts of only 100,000 existing in the whole world can be found in the area.



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