500 signatures reached
To: DENR, DA / BFAR, Senate and House of Representatives, The Ombudsman, City Government of Manila, National Historical Commission
STOP AND INVESTIGATE DUMPING OF CRUSHED DOLOMITE IN MANILA BAY
Living Laudato Si’ Philippines
Environmental Legal Assistance Center
Philippine Earth Justice Center, Inc.
Archdiocese of Manila
Dr. Jurgenne H. Primavera, Chief Mangrove Scientific Advisor of Zoological Society of London
Godofredo Villapando, Jr., Country Director, Zoological Society of London - Philippines
National Movement for Food Sovereignty
NGOs for Fisheries Reform
Tambuyog Development Center
Pangingisda Natin Gawing Tama (PaNaGat) Network
Philippine Society for Freshwater Science
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
Alyansa Tigil Mina
Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development
AGHAM - Advocates of Science and Technology for the People
Isla Biodiversity Conservation
Biodiversity Conservation Society
Center for Environmental Concerns - Philippines
Mindoro Biodiversity Conservation Foundation
We are a group of non-government organizations fighting for the protection and conservation of our vastly threatened fisheries, biodiversity, and natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations. We are alarmed that the P398-million Manila Bay beautification project is being implemented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) without compliance with our national laws, amid the very challenging COVID-19 pandemic and climate crisis we face.
We recommend that the Manila Bay rehabilitation be focused on addressing the ecological degradation, pollution and socio-economic issues in the area, such as
*reducing chemical, organic and plastic pollution; installing water treatment facilities;
*banning the cutting of mangroves, and rehabilitating degraded areas;
*stopping conversion of mangroves and wetlands through reclamation projects;
*protecting critical habitats such as mangroves and wetlands and declare them as protected areas;
*improving management of protected areas such as the Las Pinas Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, and
*establishing formally the Fisheries Management Area for a holistic, science-based decision making on fisheries management
Call for accountability:
This dumping of white sand must be stopped and the officials behind this project held accountable.
Manila Bay is close to the hearts of Filipinos. The Manila Bay waterfront was declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines in 2012 (NHCP Resolution 19, s. 2012.). It is protected by the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009. The act mandates that the bay “shall be maintained as close to their appearance at the time the area was of most importance to Philippine history as determined by the National Historical Institute.” (https://rappler.com/life-and-style/manila-bay-reclamation).
Manila Bay is also a Key Biodiversity Area identified by the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and a sardine spawning ground identified by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources through the National Fisheries Research Development Institute. It is the spawning ground of the fringescale sardinella, Sardinella fimbriata with high biomass concentration in the Metro Manila area.
Manila Bay is facing anthropogenic pressures such as overfishing and illegal fishing; “pollution and destruction of habitats, population expansion and rapid urbanization, uncontrolled coast and basin development...and mismanagement are some of the major threats to the sustainability and productivity of Manila Bay.”
The Supreme Court of the Philippines in the landmark ruling in 2008, Metro Manila Development Authority versus Concerned Residents of Manila Bay (MMDA Ruling), declared that “The importance of the Manila Bay as a sea resource, playground, and as a historical landmark cannot be over-emphasized. It is not yet too late in the day to restore the Manila Bay to its former splendor and bring back the plants and sea life that once thrived in its blue waters. But the tasks ahead, daunting as they may be, could only be accomplished if those mandated, with the help and cooperation of all civic-minded individuals, would put their minds to these tasks and take responsibility. This means that the State, through petitioners, has to take the lead in the preservation and protection of the Manila Bay.”
The dumping of crushed dolomite boulders in Manila Bay can only be described as an abdication of that grave responsibility to protect and preserve Manila Bay. This is happening at the time when our nation faces serious health, economic and climate crises.
Access whole petition text here: https://bit.ly/336U0Mn
Why is this important?
In defiance of the Supreme Court MMDA Ruling (https://lawphil.net/judjuris/juri2008/dec2008/gr_171947_2008.html) and even Administrative Order No. 16, (2019) ‘Expediting The Rehabilitation And Restoration Of The Coastal And Marine Ecosystem Of The Manila Bay And Creating The Manila Bay Task Force’, this ill-conceived project violates at least five laws that impact heavily on our fisheries, biodiversity, and marine habitats,:
1. Environmental Impact System Laws and regulations
No person may undertake environmentally critical projects or any project in environmentally critical areas without an environmental compliance certificate. Major reclamation projects and resource extractive industries such as major mining and quarrying projects are environmentally critical projects. Presidential Proclamation No. 2146 includes the following as environmentally critical areas:
*All areas declared by law as national parks, watershed reserves, wildlife preserves and sanctuaries
*Areas which constitute the habitat for any endangered or threatened species of indigenous Philippine Wildlife (flora and fauna);
*Areas of unique historic, archaeological, or scientific interests; and
*Areas frequently visited and/or hard-hit by natural calamities geologic hazards, floods, typhoons, volcanic activity, etc.
2. The Fisheries Code (RA 8550) as amended by RA 10654
The Fisheries Code requires a detailed Environmental Impact Statement prior to undertaking projects which “will affect the quality of the environment.” (section 12)
It also prohibits aquatic pollution defined as anything introduced to water bodies that can harm living and non-living marine resources or humans.
3. The Clean Water Act, RA 9275
The Clean Water Act prohibits depositing of any material into bodies of water or their margins that cause water pollution
4. The National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, RA 10066
The National Historical Commission declared Manila Bay, from Del Pan Bridge to the Cultural Center of the Philippines, as a national historical landmark in 2012. The law prohibits alteration of its original features:
Prohibited Acts. - To the extent that the offense is not punishable by a higher punishment under another provision of law, violations of this Act may be made by whoever intentionally:
(b)Modifies, alters, or destroys the original features of or undertakes construction or real estate development in any national shrine, monument, landmark and other historic edifices and structures, declared, classified, and marked by the National Historical Institute as such, without the prior written permission from the Commission. This includes the designated security or buffer zone, extending five (5) meters from the visible perimeter of the monument or site.
At the local level, the project proponent is also required to consult the local government unit.
5. The Local Government Code of 1991, RA 7160
National agencies planning or implementing projects, such as the Department of Environment, must consult the stakeholders of the local government unit, in this case, the City of Manila. The project cannot proceed without consultation with and prior approval of the Sangguniang Panglungsod of Manila.
Likewise, New Civil Code of the Philippines, RA 386, declares that:
*Article 5. Acts executed against the provisions of mandatory or prohibitory laws shall be void, except when the law itself authorizes their validity. (4a)
*Article 7. Laws are repealed only by subsequent ones, and their violation or non-observance shall not be excused by disuse, or custom or practice to the contrary.
When the courts declared a law to be inconsistent with the Constitution, the former shall be void and the latter shall govern.
Administrative or executive acts, orders and regulations shall be valid only when they are not contrary to the laws or the Constitution. (5a)
*Article 25. Thoughtless extravagance in expenses for pleasure or display during a period of acute public want or emergency may be stopped by order of the courts at the instance of any government or private charitable institution.
Aside from the laws, the MMDA, et al. v. Concerned Residents of Manila Bay Ruling directly applies in this case. Here, the Supreme Court noted that “the cleanup and/or restoration of the Manila Bay is only an aspect and the initial stage of the long-term solution. The preservation of the water quality of the bay after the rehabilitation process is as important as the cleaning phase.“ Because of this, the Court has put the heads of all concerned departments-agencies, bureaus and offices under them on continuing notice about, and to enjoin them to perform, their mandates and duties towards cleaning up the Manila Bay and preserving the quality of its water to the ideal level. Hence, the acts of DENR and DPWH as well as its bureaus in dumping dolomite rocks as ‘white sands’ which are in fact pollutants, are in direct contravention of their continuing and mandated duties in the said case.
In addition, relying on Section 65 of RA 8550, as amended, the Department of Agriculture (DA) through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) was ordered by the Supreme Court to improve and restore the marine life of the Manila Bay in the said case.
How it will be delivered
We will submit the petition to the following and call on them to investigate why this beautification project pushed through.
DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu
DA Secretary William Dar and BFAR Director Eduardo Gongona
Senate and House of Representatives in the exercise of their oversight powers and functions
The Office of the Ombudsman
Mayor Francisco Domagoso of City of Manila and the Sangguniang Panglungsod
Chairperson Rene Escalante of the National Historical Commission