AGHAM – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People slams continuing reclamation and associated dredging activities from Manila Bay despite verbal pronouncements of President Bongbong Marcos Jr. to suspend reclamation projects.

On September 13, Wednesday, fisherfolk group PAMALAKAYA reported that dump-and-fill activities continue in Navotas City. The fisherfolk group reported that this is related to a reclamation project by Argonbay Construction Company, a subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation. Furthermore, they have also reported that dredging activities continue in Cavite. Sand excavated from the seabed through dredging is being used as filling material in reclamation activities. “Marcos has verbally declared to suspend reclamation activities pending investigation, but there are no clear guidelines on how to implement it,” said Jerwin Baure, marine biologist and public information officer of AGHAM. “Marcos’ verbal declaration to suspend reclamation projects in Manila Bay is a complete sham. As long as he refuses to issue a written executive order, project proponents will continue to dump soil on our coasts and destroy our marine ecosystems. The reclamation project of Argonbay Construction Company is one of the 22 reclamation projects in Manila Bay listed under the Philippine Reclamation Authority. Despite the verbal suspension order, Argonbay continues to dump soil on coastal waters.”

AGHAM warns that the continuing reclamation and dredging activities in Manila Bay would further contribute to the degradation of marine ecosystems and lead to the collapse of fisheries and loss of livelihood. In Navotas and Cavite, the local government ordered fisherfolk to dismantle their mussel farms to pave the way to destructive reclamation projects. “Reclamation projects in Manila Bay do not adhere to the sustainable development goals set by the United Nations,” continued Baure. “These projects destroy the environment and livelihood of people. A report by the international watchdog Global Witness revealed how the compensation provided by San Miguel Corporation was not enough for the displaced fisherfolk. Last year, fisherfolk interviewed by AGHAM complained about completely losing their livelihood and are now full of debts.”

AGHAM continues to call on the Marcos administration to issue a written executive order which sets the guidelines on how to implement the suspension of reclamation projects. We also call on Marcos to also suspend all dump-and-fill projects such as the Bulacan Aerotropolis project of San Miguel Corporation and all reclamation-associated dredging in Cavite. “Reclamation and dredging activities in Manila Bay are destructive to the environment, and they also threaten food security and exacerbate hazards. Marcos must issue a written executive order to put a legal effect on the suspension. Ultimately, our call is for the termination of permits of all reclamation and dredging projects in Manila Bay as only the rich will benefit from them while exposing poor, marginalized and vulnerable communities to the worsening impacts of climate change,” ended Baure. ###


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