'Discipline zone not enough:' DENR urged to declare Manila Bay a 'reclamation-free' zone
A bulldozer is seen working on the "white sand"—actually crushed dolomite rocks—poured along the shoreline of Manila Bay on September 6, 2020.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman
'Discipline zone not enough:' DENR urged to declare Manila Bay a 'reclamation-free' zone
Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - September 15, 2020 - 3:54pm

MANILA, Philippines — Declaring Manila Bay a “reclamation-free” zone, not just assigning a “discipline” zone, will make the historic bay clean and healthy, a fishers group said Tuesday.

In a statement, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) criticized the proposal of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources to declare the entire stretch of Manila Bay’s baywalk a “discipline” zone to ensure its cleanliness.

DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said the department will submit a request to the Manila City government to pass such ordinance, CNN Philippines reported over the weekend. This, after he allegedly saw a man defecating along the baywalk area during the agency’s inspection of the artificial white sand being dumped along the bay’s shoreline.

For PAMALAKAYA, the proposal is a “misplaced priority” and “reeks poor-blaming.”

“While the DENR is making a fuss out of feces, it fails to recognize the actual and biggest threat in Manila Bay—the massive reclamation projects that wipeout mangrove forests and sea grasses and cause irreversible damage and pollution in the waters,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA national chairperson, said.

Hicap called on the DENR, which heads the Manila Bay rehabilitation task force, to revoke all the environmental compliance certificates issued to several reclamation projects on the bay.

“How about declare the Manila Bay a reclamation-free zone to save it from further ecological destruction and revive its marine and fishery resources?”

Reclamation projects are seen to adversely affect the habitat of marine species and wetlands and wells as destroy a source of fish catch for fisherfolk.

Scientists also said that coastal development projects will also make coastal communities susceptible to liquefaction — or when loosely packed ground surface loses their strength—during earthquakes and aggravate flooding in low-lying areas.

One of the biggest reclamation projects in Manila Bay is the proposed New Manila International Airport in Bulacan province, which will reclaim 2,500 hectares of fishing and mangrove areas.

The DENR in June issued an ECC to the land reclamation project in Bacoor City.

PAMALAKAYA earlier said that a better way to rehabilitate Manila Bay is restoring mangrove forests and wetlands.

Early in September, the department began filling a stretch of Manila Bay’s coastline as a part of the government’s effort to rehabilitate, a move feared to potentially harm not only the bay’s marine ecosystem but also communities in and around the area. Critics also hit the project for its alleged failure to comply with environmental laws.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: September 29, 2020 - 12:39pm

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources orders the closure of Aristocrat restaurant in Roxas Boulevard for "generating and discharging pollutive wastewater" amid the government's move to rehabilitate Manila Bay.

The Manila Bay rehabilitation program involves cleanup activities, relocation of illegal settlers as well as apprehension of establishments that violate the Philippine Clean Water Act and other environmental laws. 

Last January 22, the Manila City government has ordered the temporary closure of Manila Zoo to allow the reconstruction of its sewer lines. The zoo is located near Estero de San Antonio Abad in Malate, Manila, which directly drains into the Manila Bay.

DENR ordered establishments around the bay to put up their own sewage treatment plants last January 11.

September 29, 2020 - 12:39pm

Opposition Sen. Leila de Lima slams the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for ordering the closure of two mining firms after acquiring dolomite from the two companies and dumping it on Manila Bay.

"Nakakatawa naman talaga ang DENR. Pagkatapos nilang isabog at ikalat ang dolomite sa dalampasigan ng Manila Bay, saka pa lang nila ngayon ipapa-imbestiga kung sanhi nga ba ng pagkamatay ng mga bahura ang natatapong dolomite ng dalawang minahan sa Alcoy, Cebu," De Lima says in a statement.

September 18, 2020 - 10:06am

The fish kill in the Baseco portion of the Manila Bay is an indication that it is degraded as it is, fisherfolk group Pamalakaya says.

"It‘s environmental degradation is supposed to be the main concern that the DENR should be seriously addressing, not busying itself with some kind of beach nourishment' that is actually ephemeral aesthetics, but irrelevant to rehabilitation," Pamalakaya says in a statement.

The group calls on the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to conduct water sampling and laboratory analysis for possible water pollution. However, there is no established connection yet between the fish kill and the "white sand" project.

September 9, 2020 - 3:51pm

The Department of Health assures the public that "no untoward incidents" will occur as a result to the use of crushed dolomite rocks as "white sand" in the Manila Bay coastline.

The agency clarifies that dolomite is not known as a health hazard in its bulk state but can have harmful effects if it is in dust form, like any other dust particle.

"As stated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the dolomite material that is being used in Baywalk is 2-5mm or 100 times bigger than dust, therefore does not get suspended in air," the DOH says in a statement.

September 9, 2020 - 9:04am

House members under the Makabayan bloc file a resolution seeking for an inquiry into the suitability and sustainability of the Manila Bay rehabilitation program following the dumping of crushed dolomite boulders on the coastline.

Rep. Eufemia Cullamat (Bayan Muna Party-list), Rep. Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna Party-list), Rep. Ferdinand Gaite (Bayan Muna Party-list), Rep. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Women's Party), Rep. France Castro (ACT Teachers Party-list) and Rep. Sarah Elago (Kabataan Party-list) filed the resolution.

The seven lawmakers cited people's opposition due to the project's impact to the environment, public health and injudicious utilization of public funds.

September 8, 2020 - 3:31pm

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno seeks clarification from Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu over the pronouncement of the Department of Health that using crushed dolomite rock for the beach nourishment project of Manila Bay can cause respiratory problems.

In a letter dated Sept. 7, 2020, Moreno cited the remarks of Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire that the material used as white sand in filling Manila Bay coastline may be harmful to people's health.

"Hence, pursuant to the faithful discharge of my duty to promote health and safety, enhance the right of the people to a balanced ecology and preserve the comfort and convenience of the city inhabitants, may we seek your clarification on this declaration of Usec. Vergeire to make sure that the health, comfort and convenience of the city inhabitants and other neighboring local government units are properly taken care of," Moreno says in the letter.

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