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Group seeks 1M signatures vs reclamation project in eco-reserve

By Miko Morelos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
February 1, 2012
12:56 am

Groups opposing a planned reclamation project in front of Metro Manila’s last ecological reserve have launched a campaign collecting one million signatures to persuade the government to change their mind about building a business center and a highway in the area.

In a statement, the Save Freedom Island Movement cautioned the national government and other project proponents about pushing through with the reclamation.

“Based on various studies, eight barangays (villages) in Parañaque City and 14 barangays of Las Piñas City will experience severe flooding if strong typhoons hit the country because these cities parallel to Freedom Island are situated on low ground,” the group said.

The movement is composed of nongovernment organizations from fisherfolk and environmentalists, and representatives from the Church and other groups.

The project is reportedly a venture between the local governments of Las Piñas and Parañaque, the Philippine Reclamation Authority and its contractor All-Tech, according to the group, which added that the reclamation is being done through the Aquino administration’s public-private partnership.

Glacy Macabale, the movement’s spokesperson, said the reclamation is a threat to the livelihood of about 10,000 fisherfolk and vendors who depend on the waters off Manila Bay for their livelihood.

The reclamation could also affect families living at Floating Village and along waterways in Parañaque who will be evicted from homes, she added.

Last year, the caretaker of the reserve, called the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, requested authorities to think through its plan of reclaiming 635 hectares of sea in front of the coastal lagoon.

Rey Aguinaldo, a biologist at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said the project would cut off the flow of water to the sanctuary, which serves as a breeding ground for fish and migratory birds.