May 22, 2019
Solidagro partner, Climate Change Network for Community-based Initiatives (CCNCI), joined around 200 people belonging to the environmental, urban poor, fisherfolk, women and church-based organizations in launching the Manila Baywatch, a watchdog alliance to monitor developments in the government's rehabilitation and reclamation programs in Manila Bay.
At least 25 reclamation projects covering 28,647 hectares of foreshore areas in Manila Bay are in varying stages of application, approval, and development. Various studies have shown that these proposed reclamations overlap with the last remaining mangroves and seagrasses that serve as the lifeblood of Manila Bay.
CCNCI asserts that the reclamation projects will worsen the effects of climate change because it aggravates the vulnerability of the affected areas to storm surges and floods. Reclaimed land is also unstable and vulnerable to liquefaction, earthquakes, and tsunamis based on various studies on the effects of reclamation.
The alliance aims to protect fisherfolk and urban poor communities that are in danger of being evicted in the implementation of Duterte administration’s rehabilitation program which, it believes, is a pretext for big reclamation projects planned for Manila Bay.
Manila Bay is considered one of the most polluted bays in the world as industrial, commercial, and residential wastes end up in the bay that resulted in a high level of coliform bacteria. A report from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources showed that the coliform level is three million times higher than the safe level. Thousands of urban poor families are living near along the bay area, which is prone to floods during typhoons.
"Manila Bay's rehabilitation is long overdue but we will not let it be a pretext for widespread evictions and reclamations...Duterte's administrative order is focused mainly on relocating communities and has little to no plan on protecting the watershed and coastal ecosystems," the alliance said in a statement.
“Only P7 billion is allocated for cleanup with zero allocation for conserving fisheries and restoring ecosystems. This leads many to suspect that Duterte’s deprioritization of restoring coastal and marine landscapes is due to destructive reclamation projects expected to conflict with these areas that should have long been declared protected,” it added.
The alliance called on the people to bond together to protect Manila Bay and uphold people’s right to life and livelihood and continue the struggle for climate justice.