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Atienza: Manila Bay reclamation projects ‘bound to wipe out entire ecosystems’

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Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said Sunday he “wholly supports” President Rodrigo Duterte’s stance against the reclamation of 100 square kilometers of the Manila Bay, warning it would demolish vital coastal ecosystems.

“The proposed reclamation projects from the private sector are just meant to create large tracts of valuable new land and wealth for some oligarchs out there, at the grave expense of the environment,” the mayor of Manila said.

“These unwanted projects are bound to wipe out entire ecosystems, further degrade Manila Bay’s water quality and disrupt the food chain in a big way,” said Atienza, a former secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

“Once destroyed, these underwater biological communities and their physical environment can never be recovered. They will be gone forever if the projects are allowed to push through,” he said.

“What is the point of rehabilitating Manila Bay if the government is just going to allow private developers to bulldoze entire reef areas?” Atienza asked.

Property developers have tendered 25 projects to reclaim 10,000 hectares of Manila Bay.

Duterte earlier said he was unlikely to approve the “mind-boggling” reclamation of Manila Bay, from Navotas City to Cavite province, “as long as there is no guarantee that the environment will be protected.”

In February last year, Duterte stripped the National Economic Development Authority of the power to approve reclamation projects and transferred it to the Philippine Reclamation Authority, which he also put directly under his office.

Besides reducing Manila Bay’s 190-kilometer coastline, Atienza warned that the reclamation projects would usher in new highly pollutive activities around the water body.

“Many of our municipal fishing grounds are already deteriorating fast. This is why our fish harvests are unable to catch up with growing demand, pushing (fish) prices up to the detriment of low-income households,” Atienza said.

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