Reclamation off Manila Bay continues – group

Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
Reclamation off Manila Bay continues � group
This picture shows a barge unloading sand at a reclamation site in Manila Bay on March 14, 2023.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Two months after President Marcos announced the suspension of all reclamation projects in Manila Bay, fishermen witnessed a dredging vessel closely passing their boat off Cavite on Saturday night, fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said.

“The dredging vessel is involved in seabed quarrying in Cavite to fulfill several dump-and-fill projects in Manila Bay, particularly for the airport reclamation project in Bulacan,” Pamalakaya yesterday said.

“The continuous dredging operations is proof that Marcos Jr.’s suspension order on reclamation is a sham, especially with the absence of an official executive order,” it added.

Pamalakaya said that the dredging operations continue to affect the livelihood of fisherfolk, causing a drastic income decline of at least 80 percent per fishing operation.

Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Loyzaga earlier announced that Marcos has suspended all 22 reclamation projects in Manila Bay pending a review of their compliance with environmental regulations.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has submitted to Marcos its recommendation on the reclamation projects in Manila Bay.

The source, who requested anonymity, confirmed that the DENR leadership came out with a report on the result of the cumulative impact assessment of all reclamation projects in Manila Bay and it is now with the Office of the President.

“There were highly confidential documents delivered by hand personally but we are not privy to the contents,” the source told The STAR.

Loyzaga has formed a scientific team to conduct the community impact assessment composed of a physical scientist, oceanographers, a geologist, a climate scientist and a social scientist.

The suspension came days after the US embassy had expressed concern that the Manila Bay reclamation projects have ties to the China Communications

Construction Co. (CCCC), which was blacklisted by Washington in 2020.

The Chinese firm has been included in the US Department of Commerce’s Entity List for its role in helping the Chinese military construct and militarize the artificial islands in the South China Sea.

According to the US embassy, the CCCC had also been cited by the World Bank and Asian Development Bank for engaging in “fraudulent” business practices.

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