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Senator - elect Villar asks CA to reconsider Manila Bay reclamation project ruling

By MARK MERUEÑAS, GMA NEWSMay 29, 2013 10:57pm

Tags: Court of Appeals , Cynthia Villar
Senator-elect Cynthia Villar on Wednesday asked the Court of Appeals to overturn its earlier ruling denying her plea to stop a P14-billion Manila Bay reclamation project. In a motion for reconsideration, Villar cited a recent international declaration listing the surrounding area as of "significant value and international importance."

Villar quoted the international treaty Ramsar Convention's "List of Wetlands of International Importance" which officially included the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA) last March 15, 2013.

According to the treaty group, all sites included on its list "acquire a new status at the national level and are recognized by the international community as being of significant value not only for the country, or the countries, in which they are located, but for humanity as a whole."

"For an international treaty organization to recognize LPPCHEA’s global importance to biodiversity proves that the area is indeed a critical habitat and needs special protection from threats, including reclamation," Villar said.

In its earlier decision, the CA Third Division denied Villar's plea against the Las Piñas-Parañaque Coastal Bay project for lack of merit and for failing to prove the reclamation project would trigger massive environmental damage.

"No credible, competent, and reliable evidence had been presented to support the allegations that the proposed coastal bay project would cause environmental damage of such magnitude as to prejudice the lives, health or properties of the residents of Parañaque and Las Piñas. These apprehensions had been disproved by objective, expert and scientific studies of reputable entities with vast international experience," the CA Division said.

'Irreparable' damage

Villar, wife of Sen. Manny Villar, filed her original petition with the Supreme Court in March 2012, which in turn issued a writ of kalikasan the following month. The high court then remanded the case to the Court of Appeals for hearing.

In her petition seeking the issuance of a writ of kalikasan (writ of nature), Cynthia Villar said the government and AllTech Contractors Inc. project would cause "irreparable" damage and would have an impact on more or less 1.5 million residents in Las Piñas and Parañaque Cities, as well as Bacoor town in Cavite.

Villar claimed to have obtained the support of some 315,000 residents of Las Piñas for her SC petition.

Her petition also claimed that the project – which aims to convert the area into a commercial-residential-industrial district – would block the natural flow of the Las Pinas, Parañaque, and Zapote Rivers, and cause immense flooding.

"Such project is not only replete with procedural shortcomings, worse, it is clearly damaging to the environment... and would place [affected residents] at great risk of losing their lives and properties to catastrophic flooding," the petitioner said.

A former Las Piñas congresswoman, Mrs. Villar cited a study conducted by the private firm Tricore Solutions Inc. (Tricore), predicting that if the project pushes through, days of heavy rain might cause five-meter deep floods in 65 barangays.

In addition, Mrs. Villar said the reclamation project would cut off the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat from Manila Bay. The habitat is home to over 195 bird species and over eight mangrove varieties and the project would lead to the "breakdown of bio diverse ecosystem and consequent demise of its thriving wildlife." — DVM, GMA News

Tags: Court of Appeals , Cynthia Villar


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