DENR must restore mangroves, seagrasses in Manila Bay instead of planting coconut trees â fishers
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu leads the ceremonial planting of coconut palms along Roxas Boulevard in Manila as part of the beautification and restoration of the Manila Baywalk.
DENR, Twitter

DENR must restore mangroves, seagrasses in Manila Bay instead of planting coconut trees — fishers

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - June 16, 2021 - 5:07pm

MANILA, Philippines — An organization of fisherfolk called on the government to restore mangrove forests and seagrass beds instead of planting coconut palms along the shore of Manila Bay, which it said will have a “meager to no contribution” to the rehabilitation of degraded body of water.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources led the planting of coconut palms along the baywalk area in Roxas Boulevard as part of the agency’s “continuing activities and efforts for the clean-up and rehabilitation of Manila Bay.”

But fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) said that while it is natural for coconut trees to grow in coastlines, the palms have “nothing to do with” addressing the bay’s environmental degradation.

“Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it is necessary and priority to restore the bay’s ecosystem. Planting of coconut palm trees along the shores reflects the government’s thrust on Manila Bay rehabilitation which is solely based on external beautification, rather than restoration of its marine and fishery resources,” said Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA national chairperson.

Philstar.com has reached out to DENR's Jonas Leones, who is the undersecretary for policy, planning and international affairs, but he has yet to respond as of posting. The story will be updated once he sends a response.

Coastal vegetation acts as natural barrier against natural and anthropogenic activities, with coconut trees known to withstand big waves. 

Last year, the agency undertook a controversial beach nourishment project, using crushed dolomite rocks to “rehabilitate and protect” coastal resources in the area as well as to prevent erosion. The estimated cost of the project was P389 million, around P28 million of which was allotted for the overlaying of artificial white sand on the beach.

Restore mangroves

Rehabilitation efforts must focus on restoring mangrove forests and seagrasses, which are vital to the bay’s ecosystem and biodiversity, PAMALAKAYA said. Mangroves and seagrasses serve as pollution filter, flood defense of coastal communities and habitats of fish. 

“The DENR has completely lost touch with the reality by ridiculously envisioning a tropical paradise in Manila Bay when small fisherfolk and coastal residents actually need restoration of fishery resources for their livelihood and food security,” Hicap said.

“Mangrove reforestation and seagrasses restoration are more relevant to the Manila Bay rehabilitation than the costly yet futile beach nourishment project,” he added.

Environment officials have been saying the agency is not only focused on beautifying the baywalk but is also addressing problems in different tributaries and waterways of Manila Bay.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: June 7, 2021 - 2:18pm

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.

June 7, 2021 - 2:18pm

A fishers' group slams the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for issuing an environmental compliance certificate to a reclamation project in Bulacan.

The DENR has granted San Miguel Corp. a permit for its P700-billion aerotropolis project that would cover over 2,500 hectares of Manila Bay.

Pamalakaya says the aerotropolis project is "on the opposite track" of the Manila Bay rehabilitation program.

“Reclamation defeats the purpose of rehabilitation as it endangers vital marine resources that keep Manila Bay abundant and biodiverse," Pamalakaya chair Fernando Hicap says.

November 20, 2020 - 1:03pm

Akbayan is calling on the original parties in the 2008 environmental protection case over Manila Bay to join them in questioning the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources' dolomite beach project.

The party does this in a statement after the Supreme Court denied its motion to intervene in the case, adding the court "has taken, quite sadly, a hands-off approach on an issue of transcendental importance."

It adds: "Even the high tribunal's statement that it found no violation of its continuing Mandamus is discouraging. It limited its findings to the reports submitted by the DENR on its specific directive to clean the waters of the bay and perform maintenance measures." 

"It failed to include in its assessment the DENR's dumping of fake sand as a polluting act violative of its order."

October 30, 2020 - 1:18pm

Akbayan party-list will hold a "bicycle action" on November 3 "coinciding with the Supreme Court's en banc session to deliberate on the petition Akbayan filed on the dumping of dolomite sand along Manila Bay."

Bikers will meet at Plaza Salamanca in the morning and head to the Supreme Court gates in Padre Faura.

In its announcement, Akbayan says it is calling for the SC to "hold the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in contempt for dumping fake white sand in Manila Bay, which is in violation of the court's continuing Mandamus on the area, as well to save Manila Bay the right way." 

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.

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