SEN. Cynthia Villar has urged the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) to review all projects permitted by the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) to determine their true impact on the residents and the environment.
Villar particularly cited the reclamation projects along Manila Bay that she said could eventually worsen flooding in Metro Manila.
According to her, the PRA has approved 102 national reclamation projects over a total area of 38,272 hectares in Manila Bay, Visayas and Mindanao.
“I ask NEDA to review the NRP approved by the PRA and consult all stakeholders and experts on how this will impact on the people’s welfare and on the environment,” the senator said.
Studies show that the NRP projects will affect an equivalent of one-tenth of coastal and marine habitats and could potentially translate to a loss of nearly P30 billion per year in seagrass goods and ecosystems alone.
Villar, who has been very vocal against the Manila Bay reclamation project, also said that it could cause severe flooding in Cavite, Parañaque, and Las Piñas.
“I trust that NEDA will perform stricter scrutiny of projects being proposed for reclamation. In approving these projects, we should not be guided by how much revenue this will generate but by the extent of its effects on people and the environment,” she said.
The lawmaker likewise appealed to the agency to consider the People’s Summit of Reclamation’s call for a moratorium on the projects under the NRP.
Participants in the summit argued that the NRP was adopted without a genuine stakeholders’ consultation, a gross violation of the right of citizens to participate in decision-making; without rigorous scientific assessment of the environmental risks and impacts by reclamation projects; and without transparency in concerned government agencies.
Thousands of residents also raised their objections against the reclamation project around the 175-hectare Las Piñas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA).
The LPPCHEA is a protected area as stated in Presidential Proclamation 1412 and 1412-A. It was included in the Ramsar list of wetlands of international importance, along with Tubbataha and the Palawan Underground River.