AGHAM – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People demands transparency from the Marcos administration on the status of suspended reclamation projects one month after the verbal suspension order.

“It’s been almost a month since Marcos Jr. suspended all reclamation projects in Manila Bay, and yet there is neither written suspension order nor clear guidelines on how this will be implemented,” said Cleng Julve, Campaigns and Advocacies Officer of AGHAM. “A written suspension order would give legal effect to the President’s verbal suspension and ensure that it is not just lip service.”

“Even after the verbal suspension of reclamation projects, we are still hearing reports about continuing dredging activities in Cavite,” continued Julve. For years, various environmental organizations have warned against the negative impacts of reclamation projects and the associated dredging activities. “Dredging is also destructive as it disturbs benthic ecosystems where fish live, which may eventually affect fisheries production and food security. Furthermore, the construction of other destructive coastal development projects such as the New Manila International Airport are still ongoing. This project has also caused mangrove deforestation as well as displacement and loss of livelihood of fisherfolk. We express our disappointment that the Marcos administration has not considered suspending or stopping these destructive activities.”

“We are also calling the attention of the Marcos administration to look into the series of human rights violations against environmental defenders opposing reclamation,” added Julve. Recently, two anti-reclamation activists working with fisherfolk affected by reclamation in Bataan and Bulacan were abducted in Orion, Bataan. “We join the calls to surface Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano, and urge the government to investigate this incident. The government’s silence over the abduction of the two young women is deafening and alarming. Furthermore, we also call on state forces to stop intimidating and surveilling Aries Soledad, another anti-reclamation activist opposing reclamation and dredging in Cavite. The continuous attacks against anti-reclamation activists and advocates only shows the Marcos adminisration’s failure to protect environmental defenders, which is counterproductive in protecting our coastal ecosystems especially Manila Bay.”

The Philippines continues to be one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change, and also the deadliest country in Asia for environmental and land rights defenders since 2014. We have been experiencing heavier flooding recently due to compounding effects of both natural and anthropogenic causes. Environmental defenders and civil society organizations have been working to stop destructive development projects, but their lives are being endangered. “Environmental defenders are opposing destructive development projects, and it is imperative that the state uphold their rights and safety. The government should be at the forefront in fighting and mitigating the impacts of climate change, and not serve as a facilitator to environmental destruction by approving destructive development projects,” ended Julve. ###


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