Move to fasttrack passage of Bulacan airport franchise ‘unfortunate’ — environmental group

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Move to fasttrack passage of Bulacan airport franchise �unfortunate� � environmental group
Undated file photo shows a coastal village in Brgy. Taliptip in Bulakan, Bulacan.
Philstar.com / Efigenio Christopher Toledo IV

MANILA, Philippines — An environmental group expressed disappointment over the move of lawmakers to fasttrack the passage of a bill granting a franchise to San Miguel Corporation to build a sprawling airport complex in Bulacan.

Oceana Philippines called the speed by which the House of Representatives and the Senate passed the franchise for the construction of the San Miguel AeroCity “unfortunate.”

The Senate approved on second reading the franchise application Monday. It is expected to be passed on third and final reading later this week.

The House of Representatives approved a counterpart bill on September 7.

Lawyer Gloria Estenzo-Ramo, Oceana Philippines vice president, said the move of Congress reveals the legislators' “dismal failure” to appreciate the ecosystem services that fisheries and mangrove, wetlands and other habitats provide.

“We need to protect this marine biodiversity as we are facing deepening poverty amid the health, fisheries and climate crises,” Ramos, an environmental lawyer, said.

NewsXFed by the waters

‘Blind eye’

For lawmakers, the airport complex in Bulacan will help decongest the country’s primary airport, Ninoy Aquino International Airport, and will provide more jobs to Filipinos.

But for environmentalists and the fishing communities that will be affected, the construction of the project will mean loss of a productive breeding ground of marine species, loss of livelihood and displacement from their homes.

The airport city project is also feared to aggravate flooding in low-lying communities and land subsidence in communities near the project site.

“The legislators turned a blind eye on the massive ecological destruction, and displacement of fisherfolk and coastal residents. It is lamentable that they did not listen to the various studies conducted on the impacts of the project to the people,” Estenzo-Ramos said.

But she vowed that the passage of the franchise bill will not hinder advocates from pushing for the Environmental Rule of Law.

“The Constitution no less is our staunchest ally.”

Photo essayHome is where the coast is

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