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Manila Bay reclamation to cause flooding in Las Piñas and nearby areas, Cynthia Villar says

Senator Cynthia Villar on Monday said the ongoing Manila Bay reclamation will cause six to eight-meter flood in Las Piñas City and other nearby areas.

“Like the experience of Las Piñas, mayroon po kaming apat na river dito sa Las Piñas, Parañaque, Bacoor—Molino, Zapote, Las Piñas, Parañaque. ‘Pag itinuloy po ang reclamation in our part of Manila Bay, wala pong lalabasan ‘yung tubig ng ating apat na river at prinedict na po na babaha kami ng six to eight meters. Ang six meters po is three-story building,” Villar said in an interview on Unang Balita.

[Like the experience of Las Piñas, there are four rivers here in Las Piñas, Parañaque, Bacoor—Molino, Zapote, Las Piñas, Parañaque. If the reclamation in our part of Manila Bay pushes through, the water from the four rivers won't be able to flow out to sea. It's been predicted that flooding will be six to eight meters. Six meters is a three-story building.]

Villar, who chairs the Senate environment and natural resources committee, said they have been opposing this since 2010.

“Simula pa noong 2010, lumalaban na kami sa reclamation kasi ayaw po naming bumaha ang lugar namin. Kasi ‘yang reclamation, pag nagawa na ‘yan, paano natin tatanggalin ‘yan? Di na natin matatanggal kaya bago mangyari dapat lalabanan na natin,” she explained.

[We have been opposing the reclamation project since 2010 because we don't want to our communities to get flooded. You cannot undo a reclamation project. that's why we are fighting it beforehand.] 

According to the senator, she already raised this with President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga.

“Nu’ng una, lumapit ako kay President at t’yaka kay Secretary Loyzaga. Pinakita ko ‘yung mapa ng proposed reclamation in our part of Manila Bay,” she said.

“Sinabi ko sa kanila na kami ay legislated protected area. We are entitled to a buffer zone of three kilometers provided for by the DENR. Kaya kailangan ‘wag mag-reclamation don sa three-kilometer buffer zone namin,” she said.

“Kung ganito po ang nangyayari na ‘di na lang ako ang nagko-complain, marami nang nagko-complain, I guess we have to prepare for a public hearing,” she added.

With regard to the links of Senator Sherwin Gatchalian’s family to the reclamation projects in Manila Bay, Villar said she hasn’t talked to her colleague about it as it is a personal matter.

“Hindi ko naman kinakausap kasi personal n’ya ‘yan, baka sabihin nila pinepersonal ko sila. Ako naman protection ng cities around Manila Bay, ‘yun naman ang habol ko,” she said.

[I haven't spoken to him about it because it is his personal matter. He might misconstrue me as taking it personally. I'm really just for the protection of cities around Manila Bay.]

“Kami developer din kami. ‘Di kami nagre-reclaim madali naman bumili ng lupa, maraming lupa sa Pilipinas. Bakit tatabunan ang dagat para magkalupa?” she added.

[We are developers too. We don't reclaim. It is easy to buy land. There is so much land in the Philippines. Why should we cover the sea with land?]

In a forum last week, Gatchalian said he is not involved with his family’s reclamation project in Manila Bay.

Meanwhile, Villar agreed with Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla that the awarding of contracts for the reclamation projects was rushed.

“In a period of one year, 21 [Environmental Compliance Certificate]. How can you do that?” she quipped.

She also pointed out that the Supreme Court had issued a mandamus in 2000 which ordered the cleaning of the Manila Bay by the 13 government agencies to make it swimmable.

“Ngayon tatambakan lang pala nila ang Manila Bay. Ano ang use ng mandamus na ‘yon?” she asked.

Further, Villar believes that the recent flooding due to the typhoons was exacerbated by the reclamation projects.

“Common sense, ‘di ba?” she said.

Last week, the United States has expressed concerns over ongoing reclamation projects in Manila Bay, bordering its embassy, and the involvement of a Chinese construction firm blacklisted by Washington.

At least 5,000 hectares of Manila Bay will be needed for the total of 13 reclamation projects that have been approved. — LA, GMA Integrated News