With their homes and fishing grounds on the line, fisherfolks from the town of Bulakan trooped to the Central Luzon regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources today to call for the revocation of the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) of Silvertides Holdings, subcontractor of San Miguel Corporation for the land development of the Bulacan International Aerotropolis.

Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) expressed support for the protest, saying the Aerotropolis reclamation project did not sufficiently assess the multiple risks of environmental destruction and disaster posed to the entire ecosystem of Manila Bay.

“The ECC issuance to the Bulacan Aerotropolis covered just the land preparation, not the entire infrastructure. No ECC must be issued to any aspect of the Aerotropolis until its cumulative risks posed to the entire ecosystem of Manila Bay alongside other reclamation projects is rigorously assessed. We thus demand the revocation of the Aerotropolis ECC because there is no way such shoddy work can effectively mitigate its threat of destruction to mangroves and fish conservation areas,” said Leon Dulce, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

Dulce said the railroading of the Aerotropolis ECC may very well be “the first glaring case of President Rodrigo Duterte’s hypocrisy over Manila Bay,” referring to the ‘Battle for Manila Bay’ rehabilitation program initiated by the Duterte government that failed to address head-on the conflicting issue of land reclamation.

“Duterte’s Executive Order 74 s. 2019 supposedly reiterated the requirement of assessing any reclamation project’s cumulative impacts to Manila Bay before getting permits. EO 74 also required that reclamation projects should be compliant to a Reclamation Development Plan and other relevant master plans–plans that are at date non-existent,” said Dulce.

“All these provisions have already been violated by the Aerotropolis. How can the government issue an ECC for the Aerotropolis despite this full disregard of our national policies?” Dulce said.

The group said that instead of being an instrument to the railroading of patently destructive infrastructure, the DENR should be working double-time in strengthening the protection instruments of Manila Bay.

“The northern part of Manila Bay to which Bulacan belongs to has already been declared a Key Biodiversity Area in the early part of the 2000s. It is also a potential Important Bird Area, a potential Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance site, and a sardine conservation area. If Duterte is true to his word of wanting to rehabilitate Manila Bay, he should start by working on instrumentalizing these zonings instead of allowing runaway reclamation projects to get away with ecocidal murder,” ended Dulce.#