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Groups call for halt to 'hasty, irregularly approved' reclamation projects

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Groups call for halt to 'hasty, irregularly approved' reclamation projects
This 2019 file photo shows mangroves that had been cut down in Barangay Taliptip in Bulakan, Bulacan.
Philstar.com / EC Toledo IV

MANILA, Philippines — Environmentalists, fishers and scientists have called on the government to stop the “hasty and irregularly approved” reclamation projects in different parts of the country, which are seen to devastate coastal communities and ecosystems.

In a statement sent to government agencies, over 80 organizations urged authorities to impose a moratorium on the approval of large and small dump-and-fill projects.

They cited the large-scale reclamation projects in Manila Bay, Dumaguete City, and Consolacion and Minglanilla in Cebu province.

“These projects lead to dumping and filling of materials that devastate further and kill our once-rich coastal and marine ecosystems. These not only have negative and irreversible impacts on our coasts, but also to the areas, where the filling materials are sourced,” the groups said.

The organizations also called for an investigation into the “highly irregular and questionable processes” undertaken by government agencies in approving massive dump-and-fill projects. They also urged local officials to strictly follow environmental safeguards in approving coastal land reclamation projects.

They stressed the “willful destruction of biodiversity” violates the Constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology and the following environmental laws:

  • Amended Fisheries Code
  • Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System
  • Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act
  • Clean Water Act
  • Environmental Impact System Act
  • National Cultural Heritage Act
  • Local Government Code
  • Climate Change Act

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Impacts on fishers

Similar reclamation projects in the past have already destroyed thousands of hectares of mangrove forests, seagrass meadows and coral reefs, and displaced fisherfolk and their families, the organizations stressed.

“What are at direct risk in all these dump-and-fill projects are the food security and self-sufficiency of coastal residents, especially the municipal fisherfolk and other sectors whose livelihood are directly dependent on the fisheries and aquatic resources of their prime fishing grounds,” they said.

“These projects will literally decimate their means of survival and add to their vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, which have to be factored in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis.”

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The groups also criticized the lack of public consultation, calling it an “alarming indication” of the local officials’ propensity for railroaded approval process.

“The road to recovery from this pandemic must not be paved by ill-through of intentions by a few. Rather the path chosen must be those agreed by and for the benefit of the majority of the people. We should also veer away from false, short term benefits but look into nature-based, sustainable solutions,” they said.

The statement was sent to the Philippine Reclamation Authority, Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Biodiversity Management Bureau, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, League of Cities of the Philippines, and League of Municipalities of the Philippines.

READHearings, public consultation sought on destructive Dumaguete reclamation plan

ENVIRONMENT LAND RECLAMATION PROJECTS
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