“A genuine rehab program for Manila Bay should immediately impose a moratorium on reclamation projects that threaten ecosystem destruction, urban sprawl pollution, and heightened disaster risks,” said Leon Dulce, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

At least 28,647 hectares of reclamation projects stretch across Manila Bay’s entire coast, threatening to clear out the last remaining 734 hectares of mangrove forests and seagrass beds that serve as Manila Bay’s natural pollution filters. Among these projects are the 2,500-hectare Aerotropolis project of San Miguel Corporation, a transport and development complex that will clear out coastal villages in Bulacan province.

“The Bulacan Aerotropolis alone projects an influx of 100 million people constantly in transit in their facilities. Imagine the carbon and other ecological footprints they will leave. The urban sprawl from reclamation projects and other ill-planned development projects will exacerbate traffic, pollution, pressure on water and other resources, waste generation, and other impacts on the ecological health of Manila Bay and generally the entire Metro Manila,” said Dulce.

The protesters expressed alarm that current pronouncements on the Manila Bay rehab are not appropriate to the complexity of the ecological problems across the various watersheds that converge towards Manila Bay.

“The DENR’s ‘lethal solution’ focusing on uprooting 300,000 waterway and coastal families is flawed and problematic. We estimate that these low-income families contribute just five percent to Metro Manila’s total solid waste output, while the contributions of the total middle income population and the commercial establishments actually contributes 9.6 times and 7.4 times more than them, respectively,” explained Dulce.

The environment group also pointed to government waste management failures as bigger problem points, citing a study that revealed how 74 percent of monitored solid waste in the oceans were already previously collected by waste collection services.

The National Solid Waste Management Commission meanwhile notes that only 32 percent of barangays across the country are serviced by a Materials Recovery Facility, and only 24 percent of local government units have access to Sanitary Landfills as of September 2018.

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System was also found to have connected only 14 percent of its serviced population to its sewerage pipes ad system, and has offered its sanitation services to only 44 percent from 2011-2016.

“This willful blindness might mean the Manila Bay rehab is being weaponized to clear away poor communities for big business developments. Prohibiting reclamation and other big business projects from capitalizing on the rehab program is thus imperative to prevent conflicting interests from subverting the ecological restoration efforts,” ended Dulce.#

Leon Dulce
National Coordinator
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment

Press Release
18 January 2019