January 24, 2017
Villar: LPPCHEA protectors score victory with DENR move stopping the Manila Bay reclamation project
In lauding the move of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) stopping the Manila Bay reclamation project, Sen. Cynthia Villar said that volunteers scored a victory for the protection of the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Eco-Tourism Area.
"This is a welcome development to the cause I'm pursuing along with residents of Las Piñas, Parañaque and Cavite, as well as groups in religious, private and environmental sectors. We hope the Manila Bay reclamation project, which experts see as detrimental to the environment and livelihood of 300,000 fishermen, will be permanently shelved," Villar said.
Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, also expressed gratitude to DENR, her new-found ally in the cause of protecting Manila Bay and LPPCHEA, considered as Metro Manila's last frontier.
"Our volunteers, residents and students who regularly go to LPPCHEA to conduct clean-up operations and tree-planting activities, scores a victory with this DENR decision," Villar said.
Last week, DENR Sec. Gina Lopez announced that along with five other companies, the environment clearance certificate (ECC) issued in 2011 to Alltech Contractors, Inc. for the Parañaque-Las Piñas Coastal Bay Project Land Reclamation has been cancelled due to its potential to harm the environment.
Villar noted that a reclamation project involving LPPCHEA will kill mangroves and will negate government's plan to plant mangrove trees as a climate change adaptation measure. LPPCHEA has 36 hectares of mangrove forest and known to be the thickest and most diverse in Manila Bay. To date, 11 species of mangroves are growing in the area.
In March 2013, LPPCHEA was recognized as a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention because of the critical role it plays in the survival of threatened, restricted-range and congregatory bird species.
It is home and known breeding area of the Philippine Ducks, a vulnerable specie as listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Chinese Egret, Common Greenshank, and Black-Winged Stilts can also be found here along with 82 other wild bird species coming from as far as China, Japan and Siberia.
Six other areas in the Philippines are identified as Ramsar sites, namely: the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in Palawan; the Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park in Sulu; the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary; the Naujan Lake National Park in Oriental Mindoro; the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Cebu; and the Negros Occidental Coastal Wetlands Conservation Area in Negros Occidental.
LPPCHEA covers 175 hectares of wetland ecosystem and declared a critical area by virtue of Presidential Decree Nos.1412 and 1412-A. It is also an identified spawning area of fingerlings.
Villar has been in the forefront of the campaign for the protection and preservation of the critical habitat, hosting monthly clean-up, tree planting, and study tours in the area. She works for the development of LPPCHEA as a tourism destination so that more support can be gained for its continued protection.
In 2011, Villar asked the Supreme Court to issue a Writ of Kalikasan to block reclamation projects in Manila Bay. She also sought the opinion of a hydrologist who stated that reclamation in the area will cause flooding as high as eight meters in surrounding communities of Las Piñas, Parañaque and Cavite.
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