Mrs. Cynthia Villar attends Congressional Inquiry on Manila Bay Reclamation

Former Congw. Cynthia Villar files petition in Court of
Appeals last March 16, 2012

        Former Las Piñas Representative Cynthia Villar is one of the resource persons at the hearing of the Committee on Natural Resources of the House of Representatives about the proposed reclamation project in Manila Bay, which Villar is also opposed to as it will destroy a critical habitat in the area and will lead to massive flooding in Las Piñas, Parañaque and Bacoor, Cavite.

     To recall on March 16 this year, Villar filed a petition for Writ of Kalikasan against the 635.14-hectare Manila Bay reclamation project and the Supreme Court granted her petition and issued a writ of kalikasan in April. Hearings about Villar’s petition are still ongoing at the Court of Appeals. On October 12, Villar herself took the court stand as the petitioner and one of the witnesses.

   The proposed Manila Bay reclamation project will damage the 175-hectare mangrove forest and marine habitat at the Las Piñas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA), will impede the natural river flow in Las Piñas, and will cause severe flooding in many barangays: 37 in Bacoor, 11 in Paranaque and 17 in Las Piñas.

           This scenario is backed by a study done by an independent hydrologist (Tricore Solutions Inc.). Based on the study, if a typhoon like Ondoy would happen again, the 65 barangays in Las Piñas, Parañaque and Bacoor will be submerged in floods with a depth of between 0.15 meter and 5.12 meters (five meters is equivalent to a two-storey building).

        Besides natural disasters such as catastrophic flooding, reclamation also adversely affect families who rely on fishing for livelihood as it demolishes fishing communities and causes the destruction of mangrove areas, where fingerlings thrive.

Villar proposes the option of urban renewal instead of reclamation. In a recent summit about reclamation, she cited, there are other traditional methods of urban redevelopment that are worth considering, that could decongest the city without the severe environmental risks of reclamation. These include enhancing mass transportation systems that can provide the public with faster and more convenient access to cheaper land, at the outskirts of Metro Manila. 

     The House bills and resolutions in the agenda of the committee hearing are as follows:

  • HR 1558 – Inquiry into reports that a plan to reclaim land in Manila Bay would destroy one of Metro Manila's last nature reserves and bird sanctuaries (Rep. Rufus Rodriguez)
  • HR 1611 – Investigation into the impact of reclamation projects on fisherfolk livelihood and community rights and on the marine environment (Rep. Rafael Mariano)
  • HR 1952 – Inquiry into the further reclamation of about 635.14 hectares along the coastal areas of the Cities of Parañaque and Las Piñas vis-a-vis its environmental impact, the hydrological study of large scale flooding, and the sanctuary status of the Freedom Island pursuant to Proclamation Nos. 1412 and 1412-A (Rep. Edwin Olivarez)
  • HR 1957 – Inquiry into the impact of the planned construction of Panglao Oasis Islands in Panglao, Bohol on the fishing communities, livelihood of small fishermen, local tourism and marine environment (Rep. Rafel Mariano)
  • HR 2070 – Inquiry into the legality and propriety of the issuance of an Environmental Compliance Certificate to the Parañaque and Las Piñas Coastal Bay Project that threatens to destroy a mangrove frontier previously declared by the National Government as a critical habitat and ecotourism area (Rep. Raymond Palatino)
  • HR 2305 – Inquiry into the impact of the national reclamation plan (NRP) of the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) on the environment and small fisherfolks along Manila Bay (Rep. Rafael Mariano)
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