By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Cynthia Villar on Sunday said she will file a Motion
for Reconsideration (MR) before the Supreme Court (SC) over its
“go-signal” to reclaim the Manila Bay areas In Las Pinas and Paranaque
as she urged the High Court to take a “different and fresh
appreciation” of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) rules.
She has been asserting that any reclamation project in the areas would
impede the flow of the six (6) rivers exiting to Manila Bay, which
would cause massive flooding, namely:
- Imus River in Imus City,
2.Bacoor River in Bacoor City
- Molino River in Bacoor City
- Zapote River between Bacoor and Las Piñas cities
- Las Pinas River in Las Piñas City
6.Parañaque River in Paranaque City.
In fact, the damage in Imus River causes the filing of a case by Atty.
Antonio Oposa- Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Environmental Law, which
resulted in the issuance of Mandamus of Manila Bay by the Supreme Court.
As we mark the first year of the UN Decade for Ecological Restoration,
the senator called on the court magistrates to revisit its ruling
which favored Alltech Contractors proposed projects to develop
hectares of land in Las Piñas and Parañaque, both along the coastline
of Manila Bay, which has been given up and declared illegal and the
ECC has expired.
“This and the Declaration by Congress of the existence of a Climate
Crisis, and the two reports of the Nobel-Laureate group
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, have long since rendered
any decisions of the DENR made in 2012 irrelevant,” stressed Villar.
With due respect, Villar said the SC can also take judicial notice of
the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (E NIPAS) Act
or RA 11038 which was passed in 2018.
“This legislated the now renamed Las Piñas Parañaque Wetland Park
(formerly LPPCHEA) into a protected area, said Villar, noting that
this was included in the Ramsar Convention list of Wetlands of
International Importance, in 2013.
The legislated protected area, Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland is entitled
to a buffer zone in Manila Bay which cannot be reclaimed.
She related that the DENR is also determining the extent of the buffer
zone needed for the conservation of the protected wetland park.
“The DENR’s procedures on EIA should take into consideration all these
94 newly established Protected Areas (PAs),” said Villar, chairperson
of the Senate Environmental committee.
“We have long imagined that the ecological services like the flood
drainage mechanisms and the filtering capacity of the soil will be
there forever. But without proper care, and paying the costs of that
care, these services will dissipate. The EIA system must account for
this degeneration,” she added.
The SC recently affirmed a Court of Appeals (CA) decision denying the
petition for a Writ of Kalikasan filed by Villar and 315,000
petitioners to stop a reclamation that is beside the said
international important wetland.
According to Villar, the SC issued the decision eight years after the
CA junked her petition to stop any reclamation project in the area.
She likewise emphasized the DENR’s decision to allow the reclamation
has long since been overtaken by multiple studies, many scientific and
valuation findings, most of which were not in the case file.
“Worse, any environmental decision taken in an application for an
Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) only has a 5 year validity,
considering the changes in the surrounding environment and new
scientific findings that may happen” related the senator.
She also pointed out that the ECC of Alltech, despite this SC
decision, has long since expired, and the failure to start up the
project was not caused by this case.
She also said if the Supreme Court says the DENR currently has
sufficient technical capacity to make a determination in this case of
all the factors that need to be taken into account, then why is our
environment still on the decline. (ai/mtvn)