The pain in my heart may have been caused by the shock, sorrow and stress , from the public hearing against Proposed Manila Bay Reclamation. The heart attack may have been triggered by many causes; it happened last November 21, Thursday before 4am. All the emotions that I have been suffering reached its climax from the Bohol and Cebu earthquake, the 75th Manila Board Diamond Anniversary, the real estate AIPO Formation , or worst of all Yolanda’s killer fury and disaster.
The past days before the heart attack, I was glued watching the news, the suffering of people from the Visayas particularly Leyte, Samar, Tacloban, Ormoc and With in the region was devastated. As I watched mothers holding on their dying children, or a child letting go from the love of a mother’s hand, buried dead bodies in mud and the desperate parents in search for her lost children was a tear jerking experience that my heart could not take.
But what broke the camel’s back , was watching the video taken by JP Mendoza who recorded the public hearing against the Proposed Manila Bay Reclamation Project.
Mental anguish could trigger a heart attack. For I could not understand from the video that I was watching, the disorder, stupidity and bad faith by the proponents specially the presiding officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources who clearly had an agenda to railroad the approval of the Reclamation Project.
RECLAMATION OF MANILA BAY
How can the DENR and proponents of Manila Bay Reclamation Project dare with insensitive hearts and blind minds , seek to proceed with undertaking a reclamation project, after having seen the destruction caused by Yolanda’s storm surge.
We saw, how chaotic the public hearing turned out to be because the program was tailored fit to “railroad” an approval and deceive the public.
Even from the start, in the NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING as shown below by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Environment Management Bureau, one can deduct that the location set for the hearing would be difficult to find, locate and have access to. Secondly, it required that one needs to register online, unfortunately for reasons only that the DENR know, online registration would just bounce back.
Reclamation Public Hearing Chaos Round One, A “boxing bout” between the proponents and anti-Manila Bay Reclamation groups was attended and witnessed by my staff John Paul Mendoza who recorded the event and Reporter Bert Cabrera , who interviewed various interest groups either pros or cons.
In their report, the hearing started at 9:30am, and attended by more than 500 persons including Congressman Lito Atienza, his son Councilor Ali Atienza, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Representatives, Roxas Boulevard Heritage Conservation Advocate, Ms. Doris Magsaysay-Ho, Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Representative Atty. Emily Abrera, a brilliant scientist and renowned Filipino geologist who came all the way from Chicago, Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo, who is internationally respected and prestigious in his professional work.
Present were also hundreds of interested ordinary citizens concerned about their welfare and the dangers brought about by the proposed Reclamation Project. These groups and organizations are FisherFolks, World Wildlife Fund Philippines, FisherFolks, Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC-Philippines), Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Anakpwais Party-list, Bayan Muna Party-list, Koalisyon Kontra Kumbersyon ng Manila Bay (KKK-Manila Bay), Earth Island Philippines, Malate Base Alyansa ng Mamamayan Laban sa Reklamasyon, Archdioses of Manila Ministry on Ecology.
All unanimously were rabidly against the proposed Reclamation Project because of the obvious negative environmental impact that the project will eventually cause.
Bert Cabrera , noted from his interviews that the people were protesting and expressed disgust about the wrong timing , knowing all to well that the nation is still in grief suffering from the Yolanda storm surge.
As the hearing started, the proponents led by Atty. Bentoranza projected a video message of Vice Mayor Isko Moreno defending and endorsing the Reclamation Project. However, this was immediately rebuff by Atty. Monsod, Atty Emily Abrera and Congressman Atienza, stating that the video presentation was a “propaganda, sales talk, cover up, and irrelevant” and not in keeping with the real issues involved.
The heated hearing lasted for the next 20 minutes with both sides arguing about the program and how the public hearing was being done. With Atty. Osorio presiding, it was agreed that 30 minutes will be given to each side to present their positions.
The Pro-Reclamation Group continued their presentation of Vice-Mayor Isko Moreno and the propaganda video of Solar City Reclamation Project. They claimed that the Reclamation Project will create jobs, generate taxes for the government and locate several building projects. But no mention was made about the preservation of the environment and how they plan to preserved the ecological system, protecting mangroves and marine life along the coastal shores of Manila Bay.
After the lengthy “marketing” video presentation, Pro-Life Congressman Lito Atienza with Atty. Monsod, the group’s lawyer countered immediately and stressed the following; It is not a PR video presentation and the proponents should not dominate the discussion; Practicality of rules or conduct should be followed; and he cited that the contract appeared to be already signed before the hearing.
Pro-Life Congressman Atienza then reminded everyone that there is a law against “reclamation of Manila Bay since 1986 and he is attending the hearing , not as a former Manila Mayor , but as a Legislator, Congressman ; a protector of nature and lives. He lengthily questioned the proponents of the Reclamation Project, especially with the mysterious disappearance of Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) documents.
Renowned Filipino scientist from Chicago, Dr. Kevin Rodolfo then gave researched based, objective insights why the reclamation should be stopped; Danger of Land Subsidence, Storm Surge and giant waves caused by storm surge typhoons and seismically induced liquefaction are the scientific reasons why the proposed reclamation does not satisfy environmental compliance and ecology safety standards. He also adamantly pointed out and asked why his previous scientific reports and a Department of Environment and Natural Resources scoping results are strangely missing or ” stolen”?
Both Congressman Lito Atienza and Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo agreed and concurred that the environment and ecological life will suffer and that there is truth with the prediction that by 2025 Manila will be engulfed by water and the consequences of the loss of lives and property is just beyond our imagination.
During the 2nd part of the of the public hearing, Archbishop Cardinal De Tagle, in a video presentation stressed on the importance of “stewardship and good governance”.
The Cardinal through his CBCP representative, enumerated the proponent’s lack of Social responsibility. The group mentioned that “there was no report given to them or to the public in a layman’s language, or a feasibility study. “There was no due process followed”, the representatives said.
The Cardinal prayed and begged that the Reclamation be stopped because it’s the people’s lives that will be greatly affected.
Representing the Manila Goldcoast Reclamation Project, Dr. Salvador Reyes, a Geotechnical practitioner rebuffed Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo’s 3 point claims. He said that the areas damaged by the earthquakes especially in 1990 were caused by weak soil and building structures, not by liquefaction. Dr. Reyes added “that a strongly-built reclamation land is not affected by earthquakes, and in fact serves as protection to tsunamis and prevent flooding. It was proven in countries like Singapore, Netherlands, Macau and even the reclaimed areas in Manila Bay.
With this statement, Bert Cabrera gathered that the comments of those attending stated “common sense alone can deduct that the logic of Dr. Reyes is farfetched and bordering to a blatant lie, motivated by self-interest, greed and insensitive to what may happen in the future” an unidentified Gentleman said.
Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo brilliantly countered that the damaged areas are not in the epicenter but the surrounding areas, which had extensive damage due to soil liquefaction. He even said with a shrug “Napakalayo ang maapektuhan ng earthquake. It’s the surrounding areas, not at the epicenter”.
The renowned scientist Dr. Rodolfo use as an example the 1990 earthquake wherein Cabanatuan was the epicenter but caused extensive damage within the 200 kilometers radius that included Cordillera Administrative Region and through the Central Luzon region. The earthquake was strongly felt in Metropolitan Manila and hit Baguio City, the hardest including the sinking of Dagupan City; if that is not liquefaction, then what is?
“How can we jeopardize safety, security and the environment when we know far too well that scientists reports have proven that land sinks due to liquefaction, no one in his right mind knowing the dangers would even consider reclaiming Manila bay”, he added even more so now after Yolanda tragedy.
The hearing again became a heated discussion with the proponents group hitting that there’s no merit to believe the “claims” of one scientist no matter how competent, internationally renowned, and globally accepted.
Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo then challenged the 4 proponents to submit their credentials against him. Congressman Atienza supported him by calling the proponents to come forward. But, the Government people behind the research and approval of the project and the engineers involved with the project were no were to be found. Unfortunately only two self proclaimed experts were present , and Political supporters of the project were “conspicuously” hidden.
Congressman Atienza and Counselor Ali Atienza got furious when they were accused and allegedly linked with the proposed reclamation project. They also lambasted the group why only 148 hectares was only presented in the hearing while in the original proposition it was 220 hectares. He called the government and the Goldcoast representatives as ” Liars”.
The debate ended with both parties disagreeing. A clamor for another public hearing was voiced out by those who proved the reclamation will endanger environment and lives of Filipinos. This forced the Proponents Manila Goldcoast Development Corporation and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to give in and agreed for a round two Public Hearing. If the Proponents have the courage and competence to do so.
Our tourism motto states “It’s more FUN in the Philippines” then it’s better to start by saying “It’s more FUN to leave Manila Bay alone and enjoy its beauty”.
This is the motto of the “Coalition SOS: Save Manila Bay”, led by Magsaysay Lines owner Doris Magsaysay-Ho and members of the same group that successfully campaigned against similar projects for Manila Bay. The group, once again, showed their renewed opposition to another reclamation projects on Manila Bay.
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NO ! TO MANILA BAY ” GREED” COAST RECLAMATION
MORE, MORE, AND MORE FOR NEED, NOT FOR GREED
Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo, “Why the Reclamation of nearshore Manila Bay is a very bad idea.” Philstar, October 3, 2013
Philippine Tourism Authority
JP Mendoza’s Video Coverage – November 18, 2013