AGHAM – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People supports the decision of President Bongbong Marcos Jr. to veto House Bill 7575, which seeks to create a special economic zone and freeport in SMC’s airport city in Bulacan. Such a decision is a welcome development, yet it is not enough to prevent environmental destruction and fisheries production decline in Bulacan. We urge Marcos to stop the construction of the Bulacan Aerotropolis project of San Miguel Corporation (SMC) due to issues on environmental destruction and human right violations related to the project.

In his veto decision, Marcos Jr. cites that the said economic zone lies close to proximity to the Clark Special Economic Zone. Indeed, the construction of an airport city near an economic zone in Clark, Pampanga where another airport exists is redundant. Instead of building an airport city in a mangrove area, the Marcos government should focus on the development of the existing airport in Clark.

AGHAM is calling on the Marcos government to review the franchise of San Miguel Corporation in building an airport city in Bulacan. This project has already destroyed hectares of mangrove forests and displaced fishing communities in the municipality of Bulakan. Additionally, fishing communities in Malolos, Paombong, Hagonoy and Obando also face intimidation from military forces deployed by SMC in the area. Fisherfolk are being barred by the military from fishing in their traditional fishing grounds. As an incoming Agriculture Secretary himself, Marcos Jr. must prioritize the welfare of the fisherfolk. The destruction of mangrove forests, mudflats and benthic ecosystems brought by SMC’s reclamation and dredging activities will result in habitat destruction and subsequently decline in fisheries production. A previous study by the National Fisheries Research and Development [1] showed that areas along eastern and northern Manila Bay have seasonal high biomass of fish larvae and eggs. If mangroves along these areas are destroyed, fish and other marine organisms will lose their habitats and nursery grounds.

The Bulacan Aerotropolis must not push through. Its negative environmental and social impacts far outweighs the economic benefits it promises. We demand President Marcos to review all proposed reclamation projects in the country, particularly those in Manila Bay, Dumaguete and Cebu, which threaten mangroves, seagrasses and coral reefs.  Amid a worsening climate crisis, it is imperative that the government conserve and protect all marine ecosystems, particularly the remaining mangrove forests in the country. We urge the government to listen to scientists and affected communities who are bearing the brunt of the impacts of the climate crisis. ###


[1] Tobias et al. (2017). Spatio-Temporal Distribution of Ichthyoplankton in Manila Bay in Relation to Oceanographic Conditions. The  Philippine Journal of Fisheries 24(1): 83-93.


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