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Plea for opinion on Manila Bay clean-up dumped

Published : Saturday, October 22, 2011 00:00
Written by : Jomar Canlas

THE Supreme Court (SC) junked an appeal made by two militant fishermen’s groups seeking a clarification on the cleanup of Manila Bay.

In a two-page resolution signed by Clerk of Court Atty. Enriqueta Vidal, the High Court threw out for lack of merit the Manifestation with Motion for Clarification filed by Atty. Jobert Ilarde Pahilga.

Pahilga serves as counsel for intervenors Sentro Para Sa Tunay Na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra) and Farmers Advocacy and Development Center in the case Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), et al. vs. Concerned Residents of Manila Bay.

The groups earlier asked the SC to render a clarification whether the cleanup was just for bay rehabilitation or also for reclamation and privatization.

Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya or National Fishers Movement of the Philippines) and the Koalisyon Kontra Kumbersyon ng Manila Bay (KKK-Manila Bay) also asked the SC to issue a legal opinion on the matter.

They said that the reclamation of the 175-hectare bird sanctuary along the coastline of the bay by the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) to pave the way for a business project center was grossly unacceptable.

The groups also told the SC that it was a major threat to the marine environment and totally inimical to the cause of social justice and livelihood rights of the people living within the area.

They claimed that the project would require other reclamation of 635 hectares of coastal waters, including the bird sanctuary.

In their appeal, they said that the reclamation project would also affect the Las Piñas-Parañaque lagoon, which has been the remaining mangrove forest in the National Capital Region.

But Supreme Court spokesman Jose Midas Marquez has said that the High Court does not issue legal opinions.

Marquez clarified that the groups could file a motion for clarification and then the court could act on it but the SC could not act on the motion for the issuance of a legal opinion.

It will be recalled that the SC on March 3, 2011 ordered the government to start implementing the cleanup of the bay.

It enjoined the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and other concerned agencies to submit on June 30 the concrete and strategic steps to implement the Court’s December 2008 order to rehabilitate Manila Bay so that it would be fit for swimming, skin-diving and other forms of recreation.

The ruling gave the MMDA until Dec. 31, 2015 to demolish illegal structures and dwellings along riverbanks and waterways connected to it.

The Department of Public Works and Highways and the local government units in Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan were also ordered to clear the river-banks of Manila Bay of illegal settlers until Dec. 31, 2011.