Mayor Vergel “Nene” Aguilar of Las Piñas City and his sister Sen. Cynthia Ampaya Aguilar-Villar are now at odds over the controversial P14-billion Manila Bay reclamation project.
Aguilar on Thursday slammed his senator-sister for continuously opposing the project whose implementation has been affirmed by the Court of Appeals (CA) despite oppositions from several sectors.
“I don’t know why Sen. Cynthia Villar, who happens to be my sister, is opposing development,” he said.
The local chief executive said that any differences with his sister will not prevent him from pushing the project, which he said, would benefit the people.
“This will not deter me to push for better prospects. I will never fail our people and the generations to come of their hope and dreams for a better life,” Aguilar added.
He issued the statement in reaction to the move by Villar, who filed a petition before the Supreme Court (SC) asking the reversal of the CA Third Division.
In its ruling, the CA has dismissed her application for a Writ of Kalikasan and a temporary environmental protection order (TEPO) that would stop the reclamation of 635-hectare Manila Bay coastline covering the cities of Las Piñas, Parañaque and Bacoor, Cavite.
The senator argued that the CA, in its April ruling, committed a grave and serious error when it gave the go-signal to the Alltech Coastal Bay project despite the proponents’ failure to submit an environmental impact statement.
The CA subsequently junked Villar’s motion for reconsideration in August, saying she failed to establish legal and factual loopholes in the project that would bolster her argument that the project would cause serious environmental damage.
With CA’s final decision, Aguilar expressed confidence that the proposed project will finally push through in no time.
“I am convinced that the Alltech Coastal Bay Project is not detrimental to the environment and would bring in the needed economic development in terms of livelihood and will provide 20,000 jobs for the residents,” Aguilar said.
He added the project would also result to bigger revenues that can be used by the city government in the construction of more classrooms and modern school buildings and modern health centers.
In opposing Villar’s allegations, Aguilar said the plan to develop the reclaimed portion of the Manila Bay strip went through a series of consultations and supported by scientific researches that proved it would not cause massive environmental damage and flooding.
In fact, he added, the proposal is backed by a resolution passed by the city’s 20 barangay captains and 140 village councilmen expressing support to the endeavor.
Aguilar said the project would generate needed revenues for Las Piñas, which he pointed out ranked fourth among cities with the lowest revenue but fourth largest in terms of population in Metro Manila.
“The annual income of Las Piñas is only 13 percent of the annual revenue of Makati and 30 percent of annual income of our neighboring cities,” he stressed.
Villar alleged the 635-hectare project could severely change the water discharge and flushing capabilities of the Manila Bay at a time when storm surges, floods and typhoons are prevalent, thus, worsening flooding in the affected areas.
According to Villar, the project is located in the mouths of the Las Piñas, Parañaque and Zapote rivers and right beside the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, home to over 195 bird species such as the endangered Philippine duck and the Chinese egret.