MORE than 80 civil society organizations (CSOs) are calling on government to stop the hasty approval of massive dump-and-fill, also known as reclamation, projects in different parts of the country that have disregarded environmental safeguards.
In a collective statement sent to the Senate and Congress as well as concerned government agencies, the group called on the government to “immediately halt the irregular approval of these projects that will destroy the rich biodiversity in coastal and marine ecosystems of the country, our source of life and livelihood, particularly for the undernourished and impoverished coastal communities among our people.”
The CSOs also called out all concerned local government units (LGUs) that hastily approved “without adherence to the requirements of regularity, transparency, accountability and participation by public and private proponents” of these large-scale land reclamation projects, namely the 230-hectare reclamation in Consolacion, Cebu, 100-hectare reclamation in Minglanilla, Cebu, 174-hectare reclamation along Dumaguete City’s coastline and the 23 reclamation projects in Manila Bay which are in various stages of development.
The 230-hectare reclamation in Consolacion, Cebu is the proposed Seafront City reclamation project that is in consortium with private firm La Consolacion Seafront Development Inc. and the municipal government of Consolacion.
The 100-hectare reclamation project in Minglanilla, Cebu, on the other hand, is the P20 billion Minglanilla Techno Business Park by the Ming-Mori Development Corp.
They explained that despite the social justice provision in the Constitution that gives small-scale fisherfolk preferential access to marine resources of the country, similar projects in the past were still able to push through and these destroyed fishing grounds and displaced fisherfolk and their families.
These groups said these projects have already devastated thousands of hectares of mangroves, seagrasses and coral reefs.
“The Philippines is known as the center of marine biodiversity as it is found at the apex of the Coral Triangle. However, this reputation may soon be lost with the wholesale approval of large-scale reclamation, aptly described as dump-and-fill projects all over the country,” said the CSOs.
“At direct risk in all these dump-and-fill projects are the food security and self-sufficiency of coastal residents, especially the municipal fisherfolk and other sectors whose livelihood are directly dependent on the fisheries and aquatic resources of their prime fishing grounds. These projects will literally decimate their means of survival and adds to their vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, which have to be factored in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate crisis,” they added.
The statement was recently sent to the Philippine Reclamation Authority, Department of Agriculture and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Biodiversity Management Bureau, Department of the Interior and Local Government, members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, League of Cities of the Philippines, and League of Municipalities of the Philippines. (KOC with PR)