Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima urged Congress to investigate the reported large-scale land reclamation projects nationwide that threaten coastal and marine ecosystems around the country.
De Lima filed Proposed Senate Resolution (PSR) No. 956 urging Congress to immediately look into the processes undertaken by local government units in approving such reclamation projects, and determine their compliance with existing environmental laws and regulations.
“The widespread approval of reclamation projects is altogether alarming for our and future generations of Filipinos and the government should consider imposing a moratorium on the continuing approval of such projects, both large and small,” she said.
For the year 2021 so far alone, there are already several ongoing reclamation projects in various stages of development, to wit: 174-hectare reclamation along Dumaguete City coastline; 230-hectare reclamation in Consolacion, Cebu; 100-hectare reclamation in Minglanilla, Cebu; 126-hectare reclamation project in Mandaue City, Cebu; and various other reclamation projects in Manila Bay.
In their July 2021 position paper, Oceana, a nonprofit ocean conservation organization, said reclamation projects “hide behind the promise of economic progress and infrastructure development at the expense of the environment, as well as the socio-economic welfare and livelihoods of many marginalized Filipinos.”
The same paper, signed by at least 80 other environmental protection advocacy groups, said “these projects were introduced without adherence to requirements of regularity, transparency, accountability and participation by public and private proponents.”
In fact, as far back as 2014, scientist Dr. Giovanni Tapang was quoted as saying that 37,000 fishermen were displaced by the Mall of Asia reclamation project alone.
De Lima, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, underscored the need to strictly implement the country’s environmental laws to ensure that only projects that are fully compliant with environmental provisions and prepared to address its harmful impacts will be approved, thus requiring the enforcement of a more stringent application process.
“There is a growing body of evidence of the harmful effects and negative impacts that reclamation projects can have on not only the environment but also the affected communities and surrounding ecosystem. Yet the government is insistent on its widespread implementation under the promise of economic development,” she said.
“Congress, in exercise of its oversight powers, must immediately conduct an investigation on the processes undertaken by local government units in approving these reclamation projects and determine their compliance with existing environmental laws and regulations,” she added. (30)