By Maila Ager
Former Las Piñas Representative Cynthia Villar.
INQUIRER FILE PHOTO
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Cynthia Villar challenged anew the Court of Appeals’ decision affirming the validity of an Environmental Compliance Certificate (“ECC”) issued for the proposed 635-hectare reclamation project.
In a 93-page petition filed at the Supreme Court, Villar argued that the Court of Appeals committed “several patent errors” when it denied her petition for Writ of Kalikasan against the project, which will be situated in the mouths of the Las Piñas, Parañaque and Zapote rivers and right beside the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (“LPPCHEA”) along Manila Bay.
She pointed out that the 635-hectare reclamation project was based on baseline data gathered as far back as the year 1996.
“Given the changes in the climate regimes in the country, such as the occurrence of freak storms at increasing levels of intensity and regularity, the presence of a 635-hectare reclamation project along Manila Bay could severely alter its water discharge and flushing capabilities at a time when unprecedented storm surges, floods and typhoon are rampant,” Villar said.
Studies conducted on the project, she said, showed that it might worsen flooding conditions in the cities of Las Piñas, Parañaque and Bacoor.
“There is no possible collection of circumstances which would ensure the viability and sustainability of a sensitive critical wildlife habitat while it sits under the shadow of a behemoth megalopolis designed to cater to the largess of human needs and habitation,” she said.
“The existence of one is repugnant to the other,” the senator added.
At the very least, Villar said, there should be a more comprehensive and thorough study, using updated baseline data.
The senator also questioned the “legal anomalies and infirmities” that attended the Environmental Impact Assessment process when the reclamation project was vetted and approved.
The entire process, she said, was “infested with irregularities that it appears that the prevailing rules and regulations were deliberately flaunted.”
“Since the rules designed to protect the environment were disregarded, the acts and omissions of the respondents will likely be detrimental to the inhabitants of the cities of Las Piñas, Parañaque and Bacoor,” she said.
Saying her petition involved issues that are of public interest and importance, Villar welcomed other interest groups to participate and join her in her appeal.