By Edu Punay
The Philippine Star Updated March 17, 2012 12:00
Former congresswoman Cynthia Villar, accompanied by residents
of Las Piñas City, prepares to file a petition for a writ
of kalikasan before the Supreme Court yesterday.
MANILA, Philippines - Former Las Piñas congresswoman Cynthia
Villar asked the Supreme Court (SC) yesterday to stop a P14-billion
plan to reclaim land on the Manila Bay coastline covering the
cities of Las Piñas, Parañaque and Bacoor.
In a 43-page petition filed by lawyer Frank Chavez, Villar sought
the issuance of a writ of kalikasan and a temporary
environmental protection order enjoining national government
agencies from proceeding with the project, which would cover
635.14 hectares of submerged land.
She said the project by Alltech Contractors Inc. would cause
floods of as deep as five meters in 65 coastal barangays and
irreparably damage the Parañaque-Las Piñas coastal
lagoon, which had been declared a critical habitat and ecotourism
area in 2007.
Villar alleged that Alltech was able to skirt environmental
impact assessment processes by claiming that its project is but
a “continuation” of an ongoing and existing project.
She submitted documents showing that Alltech stated in its application
for an environmental clearance certificate that its project was
a continuation of the “Manila Bay Land Reclamation Project” earlier
proposed by the Public Estates Authority, now the Public Reclamation
Authority (PRA), and the Amari Coastal Bay Development Corp.
The project involved the PEA-Amari contract earlier voided by
the SC upon a petition filed by Chavez.
Apart from Alltech and PRA, also named respondents in the petition
are the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Environmental
Management Bureau and Las Piñas City government.
Villar submitted to the high tribunal signatures of 315,849
Las Piñas residents and the findings of a hydrological
services consultant she tapped in support of her petition.
She cited a report of Tricore Solutions Inc., which predicted
that the implementation of the project will result in the inundation
of barangays in Bacoor, Las Piñas and Parañaque
under more than five meters of floodwater since it will impede
the natural flow of water to the bay.
Villar said Tricore forecast that “Alltech’s reclamation
project, coupled with rainfall of 450 mm, strong winds with a
sustained speed of almost 200 kilometers per hour, a maximum
high tide of 1.44 meters and a one-meter rise above mean sea
level as brought about by climate change, will totally submerge
under 0.15 meter to 5.12 meters of floodwater 37 barangays in
the municipality of Bacoor, 17 barangays in Las Piñas
City, and 11 barangays in Parañaque City.”
Wildlife habitat faces ‘irreparable
Villar cited as another ground the possible devastation and
irreparable damage the project would cause the coastal lagoon,
spanning 175 hectares of land in Las Piñas and Parañaque.
Then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, through Executive Order
1412 declaring the lagoon as a critical habitat and ecotourism
area, banned activities that would impede its ecologically vital
role as a bird sanctuary.
“This wildlife habitat is home to more than 195 species
of birds. Some of the most endangered species in the world can
be found in the said habitat. Foremost of these endangered species
are the Philippine duck and the Chinese egret. There are likewise
rare species of the birds that can regularly be seen in the said
areas, such as the osprey, the pied avocet and the Siberian rubythroat.
It is also a swamp habitat to eight species of mangroves and
is the most dense among the surviving mangrove areas along Manila
Bay,” Villar said.
She said the proposed reclamation “will result in the
habitat being cut off, isolated and segregated from Manila Bay.
The mangroves found therein would eventually perish due to lack
of saltwater, leading to the breakdown of the ecosystem. More
than 5,000 birds will lose their home and in all probability,