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Why Villar opposes reclamation project

by Kathlyn dela Cruz,
Posted at 12/10/2013 10:53 PM | Updated as of 12/10/2013 10:53 PM

MANILA -- Senator Cynthia Villar is pushing her battle against the planned 635-hectare reclamation project in Manila Bay along the Bacoor-Las Pinas-Paranaque coastline, saying that it will only put at risk the lives of people in case of a strong typhoon.

In an interview with ANC's "Beyond Politics," Villar explained why she opposes the reclamation project.

She said that not only will it expose residents along the coastline to severe flooding, but it can also damage the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA).

The reclamation project is located around the 175-hectare LPPCHEA.

She also said a mangrove forest in the area will die since it depends on the natural flow of water from the Manila Bay.

"Yung mangroves na iyun, yun ang protection natin from storm surges... 
Nale-lessen niya by 70 percent ang strength ng storm surge," Villar said.
She cited the case of Palompon, Leyte, where mangroves protected the residents from a storm surge brought by super typhoon "Yolanda."

Building another Metro Manila

Last May, the Court of Appeals (CA) junked Villar's petition for writ of kalikasan seeking to stop the Manila Bay reclamation project.

The appellate court denied the petition for "lack of merit" and being "premature," saying that it failed to prove allegations of environmental threat.

Villar slammed the decision, pointing out that the Philippines should not be compared to other countries such as Netherlands and Singapore which had successful reclamation projects.

She noted that these countries are not prone to disasters unlike the Philippines.
"Nobody can compare to the Philippines... Iyung concern natin is very different from their concern. Our condition is very different from them," she said.

She also pointed out that there is a question on the constitutionality of the project since Manila Bay is a public domain, and thus cannot be owned by any private individual.

"That is ours. That is Manila Bay. It's owned by the people. If you reclaim it and build it, can you give it to the private? Or it's still owned by the people?"

The senator also revealed that the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) actually has a national reclamation plan for over 26,000 hectares of Manila Bay.
This is equivalent to almost whole of Metro Manila, which is about 30,000 hectares, she noted.

"Can you imagine building another Metro Manila on top of Manila Bay? Can you imagine that? That's mind-boggling," Villar said.

'I'm doing my best'

Meanwhile, Villar said all is well between her and her brother, Las Piñas Mayor Vergel "Nene" Aguilar, despite the latter's support for the reclamation project.
"I never take it personally... I'm different. One of my advocacy talaga is environmental protection," she said.

"I will try my best to be able to protect the environment. If I'm unable to, at least it will go down in history that I tried. And if bad [things] will happen in the future because of these things, then I will not be blamed. I did my best," Villar said.