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Group to Cimatu: Revoke ECC for Bulacan Aerotropolis project

05:01 AM July 22, 2019

The Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (Agham) calls on Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to revoke the environmental clearance certificate (ECC) issued to Silvertides Corp., contracted by San Miguel Corp. to begin its Bulacan Aerotropolis project along the northern coast of Manila Bay through massive land-filling activities.

We believe that the ECC was issued without the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) carefully considering informed opinions on the detrimental impact of coastal “land development” to peoples and the environment. We also believe that the opposition to the coastal developments by residents, fisherfolk, environmentalists and even local and national government officials was taken for granted.

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The 2,070-hectare proposed “land development” project will directly displace fishing communities in Bulakan, Bulacan, and destroy a natural environment found by government scientists to be vital to the sustainability of the entire Manila Bay’s fish production, and which contributes significantly to our country’s food security. San Miguel claims this Aerotropolis is a decongestive solution to Manila’s airport traffic, and will provide jobs for locals. There should be no contest between our food security and a poorly thought solution to airport traffic.

Land development through land-filling along a coastal corridor is basically reclamation. What is not discussed is how reclaimed areas are highly vulnerable to storm surges and liquefaction during earthquakes, and they increase flood risks inland. This is because such developments destroy the mangrove environment that mitigates the risk of such geohazards.

Together with Bulakan locals and our partner organizations, we found that despite the perennial risk from geohazards, the coastal communities in these areas choose to stay because of the greater value they place on their livelihoods and their homes. Thus, almost all of them oppose the reclamation because of what they stand to lose, and because they have no alternative livelihood skills.

Locals have identified what is culturally significant to them: passive and active fishing practices, fishponds and salt beds, and marine-catch trading. These are dependent on their coastal resources and the oceanographic conditions in the area. Geophysical and environmental changes brought by reclamation will negatively impact this culture.

The community-led social and ecological impacts assessments that have been made are consistent with our findings, significantly asserting the peoples’ anxiety over the Aerotropolis project. There is no way such development can ensure them their livelihoods, homes and culture.

We urge the DENR to be more transparent in issuing ECCs, as many locals continue to be uninformed about the details of the developments that will affect their areas. Technical reports and documents should be easily accessible and not withheld from the public’s reach.

We call on President Duterte to declare Manila Bay a no-reclamation zone, in order to protect and preserve its environmentally critical habitats for the benefit of the Filipino people, from this generation to the next.

Advocates of Science and Technology for the People
Quezon City

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TAGS: Advocates of Science and Technology for the People, Agham, Bulacan Aerotropolis, ECC, Inquirer Letters DENR, Roy Cimatu, San Miguel Corp, Silvertides Corp.
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