US Embassy urged to take stand vs Manila Bay reclamation

Kristine Daguno-Bersamina - Philstar.com
US Embassy urged to take stand vs Manila Bay reclamation
This picture shows a barge unloading sand at a reclamation site in Manila Bay on March 14, 2023.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) challenged the United States Embassy in Manila to take a stronger stance against all reclamation activities in Manila Bay. 
This comes after the US has expressed concerns over major land reclamation projects in Manila Bay near its heavily secured embassy. 

The projects involved China Communications Construction Co. (CCCC), a Chinese firm blacklisted by Washington for helping Beijing construct and militarize artificial islands in the South China Sea.
The embassy also expressed concern over the environmental impact of reclamation projects in Manila Bay, raising fears that they could exacerbate flooding in Metro Manila and nearby provinces such as Bulacan, Cavite and Pampanga.
“The US Embassy is just one of the many threatened structures by the reclamation in Manila Bay," PAMALAKAYA said in a statement released on Saturday.

"A significant number of fishing structures such as mussel farms (tahungan) and stationary fish traps (baklad) were already wiped out in Cavite and Navotas to pave the way for reclamation projects,” it added.
The progressive group said the US should completely oppose every single reclamation project not only in Manila Bay but also the entire country.
"If the US embassy is genuinely concerned about the marine environment, it should express opposition against every single reclamation project in Manila Bay and throughout the country, instead of just singling out a specific project that involves a Chinese firm and threatens its security protocols,” PAMALAKAYA said.
The fisherfolk group has recorded a total of 187 reclamation projects across the Philippines, covering more than 25,000 hectares of fishing waters. Among these, 16% (approximately 30 projects) are situated in Manila Bay alone.

“For us fishers, we'll appreciate the concern only when the US embassy completely opposes the reclamation projects in Cavite province that gravely threaten the marine biodiversity and livelihood of tens of thousands of fisherfolk. The reclamation and dredging in Cavite have been going on for years, yet we have not heard a single outcry from the embassy until now," said PAMALAKAYA national chairperson Fernando Hicap in a statement.

"We call on the US Embassy to walk the talk; it should concretely support the growing resistance of fisherfolk, environmentalists, experts, and other sectors against all forms of destructive reclamation projects in Manila Bay and across the country. Reclamation, whether it be a Chinese firm or not, is a threat to our fishery production and food security,” he added.

Washington previously reported that CCCC was added to the US Department of Commerce’s Entity List for its role in helping the Chinese military construct and militarize artificial islands in the disputed sea.

The Chinese firm is also known for engaging in fraudulent business practices by the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

Meanwhile, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources assured the public that it will form a team to review all ongoing reclamation activities amid the controversy regarding the involvement of CCCC.

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