Solons want to probe a plan to reclaim 175 hectares in Manila Bay

Lawmakers want Congress to conduct a probe on the proposal to reclaim
some 176-hectare of land in Manila Bay which is considered as a nature
reserve and bird sanctuary.

Reps. Rufus Rodriguez (Cagayan De Oro City) and Maximo Rodriguez
(Partylist, Abante Mindanao) have filed House Resolution 1558
directing the appropriate House committee to look into the plan to
reclaim the Las Piñas-Parañaque Coastal Lagoon, a 175-hectare zone
consisting of salt marshes, tidal areas and three mangrove-clad
islands that serve as home or resting area for dozens of bird species,
including the globally threatened Philippine duck and Chinese egret.

Rodriguez said Executive Order 1412 was signed in 2007 declaring the
coastal lagoon as the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and
Ecotourism Area and banning activities that would impede its
ecologically vital role as bird sanctuary.

“EO 1412 is the very law that the current government is planning to
violate by reclaiming another 635 hectares in front of the sanctuary
to create a new business canter,” Rodriguez said.

“While the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) insists the
development project, which the government agency will carry out with
local authorities and a private investor, would maintain the integrity
of the habitat, opponents of the planned P14-billion project fear that
although most of the coastal lagoon would initially remain intact, the
bird sanctuary would be left largely cut off from Manila Bay,”
Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez cited the observation of Rey Aguinaldo, a US-trained
biologist who manages the coastal lagoons for the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) saying the critical habitat
would be penned in, and eventually the mangroves would die because
saltwater would not be able to circulate and the saltwater mud flats
would also eventually dry up.

Rodriguez also noted that a highway linking the new business center
with the rest of Metro Manila would also cut through the mangroves,
while about 15 percent of an island would be removed for a drainage
canal.

“Aside from these issues, one most possible victim of this project
would be the Philippine duck whose 80-strong Manila colony, making up
nearly 2 percent of the known population of the species, would be
extinguished if the project pushes through,” Rodriguez said.

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