AGHAM – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People welcomes the stand of some candidates on reclamation projects in the country. During the forum organized by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), five Presidential candidates were interviewed for several national issues, which includes reclamation.
We welcome Vice President Leni Robredo’s proposal for a people’s council to decide on such matters. We are one with her in condemning “shallow” consultations. For the past many years, public consultations in affected communities in Manila Bay, Dumaguete and Cebu were not properly done. Recently, fisherfolk and coastal residents of Malolos, Paombong and Hagonoy in Bulacan complain that they were not properly consulted for the New Manila International Airport (Bulacan Aerotropolis) of San Miguel Corporation (SMC), and that their livelihood is now being affected by ongoing construction and dredging activities . By proposing for a people’s council, VP Robredo gives us an assurance that the voice of every stakeholder will be heard.
Ka Leody de Guzman’s answer is also welcome. Indeed, for whom is the government doing reclamation for? Proponents of reclamation projects claim that these projects will bring economic development by creating more jobs, with priority for those who will be affected by the project. But what jobs will they have in these projects? How much will they earn from these jobs compared to the profits earned by corporations? Given the climate crisis that the world is facing, the government must first carefully assess the economic benefits and environmental impacts of reclamation before deciding for their approval.
Senators Manny Pacquiao and Panfilo Lacson expressed their approval for reclamation projects, but these projects must undergo consultations and scientific assessments. While these answers are welcome, we highly question their vote in favor of SMC’s franchise for the Aerotropolis. In October 2021, the Senate voted 22-0 in favor of granting SMC the franchise to construct and operate the Aerotropolis . The said project was widely opposed by fisherfolk, coastal residents, scientists and various environmental organizations due to negative environmental and social impacts. Additionally, AGHAM presented its impact assessment study about the Aerotropolis project during a Senate hearing last September 2021, and showed that the proposed site for the airport is unsuitable for massive reclamation projects. We urge Senators Pacquiao and Lacson to explain the reason behind their votes and put into detail their specific plans for existing reclamation projects that are still facing broad opposition.
Mayor Isko Moreno, expressed his full support for reclamation, citing that this will propel the country’s economy. This is in contrast to his anti-reclamation stand when he ran for mayor of Manila in 2019 . Mayor Moreno added that environmental regulations must be followed, yet this is not the case in ongoing reclamation projects. Proper consultations are overlooked, and approval of environmental compliance certificates are being railroaded despite warnings from scientists and environmental groups. The controversial dolomite beach in the city of Manila also did not undergo proper consultation with scientists. Mayor Moreno’s support for reclamation spells disaster for Manila Bay and other parts of the country affected by reclamation.
As the 2022 elections draw near, we urge Presidential candidates as well as other candidates to forward a pro-people environment agenda. Protecting the environment against destructive projects should be a priority, especially that we are facing a worsening climate crisis. Additionally, we sincerely thank the KBP for bringing up the reclamation issue for the first time since Presidential interviews with the media started. Reclamation should be treated as a national issue considering that it threatens wetlands in many areas of the country, especially in Manila Bay, Cebu and Dumaguete among others. ###
 Manila Today. (2022, January 27). Reclamation hinders genuine development for marginalized sectors in coastal communities along Manila Bay. https://manilatoday.net/reclamation-hinders-genuine-development-for-marginalized-sectors-in-coastal-communities-along-manila-bay/
 Inquirer. (2020, October 13). Senate approves bill granting San Miguel franchise to operate Bulacan airport. https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1346939/senate-approves-bill-granting-san-miguel-franchise-to-operate-bulacan-airport
 Rappler. (2019, May 19). Manila Bay reclamation ‘not a priority’ for Isko Moreno. https://www.rappler.com/nation/231008-manila-bay-reclamation-not-priority-isko-moreno/