‘Bay-wide’ complaint filed before environment regulator on World Fisheries Day

21 November 2018 

Fisherfolk, church workers, and environmental activists from Bulacan to Cavite converged at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) today to file a Manila Bay-wide complaint calling on the Duterte government to deny erring land reclamation projects their environmental compliance certificates (ECC) and area clearance permits.

“Manila Bay reclamation projects in Bulacan, Navotas, Manila, and Cavite have been found engaging in patently illegal development activities without consent from communities and clearance from scientific assessors. The Bulacan Aerotropolis is an emblematic case for cutting mangroves and threatening displacement of communities despite still not having a formal contract and much less environmental clearance,” said Leon Dulce, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).

The projects under question are the 2,500 hectare Bulacan Aerotropolis, the 18,000-hectare Manila Bay Integrated Flood Control, Coastal Defense And Expressway Project covering the coastal areas from Navotas to Balanga City in Bataan, and the 650-hectare Navotas City Coastal Bay Development Project straddling the northern part of Manila Bay where most of its remaining intact mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and coral reefs can be found.

It further includes projects from Manila down to Cavite such as the 148-hectare Manila Solar City Project, the 50-hectare BRADI Reclamation Project, the 40-hectare PRA BASECO Reclamation Project, the 407-hectare City of Pearl Reclamation Project, the 944-hectare Bacoor City Reclamation Project, and 68-hectare Cavite Special Economic Zone Reclamation Project.

“Collectively, these projects threaten displacement or heightened flood risk directly to an estimated 124,200 people from Bulacan to Cavite. Aside from displacement, the projects would lead to the clearing of hundreds of mangrove trees which serve as habitat for fish and crustaceans that serve as food for migratory birds and humans. These mangroves also serve as natural barriers against storm surge, wave, and tsunami hazards,” explained Dulce.

In the complaint, the protesters urged DENR the deny these projects from receiving Environmental Compliance Certificates and Area Clearance Permits as “not one of these reclamation projects passed key international human rights guidelines such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines.”

These guidelines for businesses include compliance to civil, political, and socio-economic rights policies in the Philippines, adopting internal human rights policies and contributing to the implementation and development of State policies, conducting due diligence in assessing and addressing rights concerns, and cooperating with legal remedy mechanisms.

“From grossly bastardizing the public participation mechanisms and environmental regulations of the Environmental Impact Assessment process, to the harassment of critics on the ground, these projects are wantonly violating people’s environmental rights. There is no reason not to respect democratic procedures, even for the Aerotropolis that is an unsolicited proposal not yet governed by the formal regulatory process of the State,” said Dulce.

“We expect DENR to act on our legitimate complaints. These destructive projects should be prohibited until such time that a rational regulatory framework over coastal resource management is put in place,” ended Dulce.#