Webinar: How the proposed Bulacan airport threatens Manila Bay

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the government said a P735.6-billion unsolicited airport project will break ground in Bulakan town, Bulacan in October.

The airport seeks to serve as an alternative gateway to the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport, featuring 4 parallel runways, with space for two more if needed in the project area spanning 2,500 hectares.

Named the New Manila International Airport, it is designed to have a capacity of 100 million passengers annually, and could be expanded to 200 million passengers. The project will also include the construction of an 8.4-kilometer tollway that will connect the airport to the North Luzon Expressway in Marilao, Bulacan.

The ambitious airport project, however, spells trouble for many, according to Oceana Philippines, an organization focused on ocean conservation and the restoration of Philippine seas to their former levels of abundance.

A recent Manila Bulletin report quoted Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda as saying that while an environmental compliance certificate has been secured for the land development of the area, a separate environmental permit for the "structure" of the airport has yet to be secured.

If the project pushes through, 7 coastal sitios – with an estimated population of 1,102 – will be directly affected by the construction of the airport, according to the barangay office of Taliptip in Bulakan.

Located within the Manila Bay, the massive reclamation project might possibly leave already vulnerable coastal communities displaced, their sources of livelihood destroyed, and the environment at risk.

The project also threatens remaining wetlands where migratory birds roost, as it encroaches on and reclaims hectares of mangroves and fish ponds.

The airport project faces several geohazards as well that make it vulnerable to possible storm surges, flooding, and liquefaction.

Join the webinar

To better understand the Bulacan airport's potential impact on Manila Bay, Rappler with Oceana Philippines will hold a webinar on Tuesday, August 18, at 5 pm.

With insights from advocates and experts, the webinar seeks to answer several questions: Why is it important to talk about reclamation projects in Manila Bay? What are the geohazards that threaten the area? What can be done to address these?

Shedding light on the geological hazards posed by the airport project, Narod Eco, a researcher at the Marine Science Institute of the University of the Philippines Diliman, will be speaking at the webinar.

Among the speakers of the webinar are Oceana Philippines Vice President Gloria Estenzo Ramos and Bulacan Ecumenical Forum Spokesperson Fr Francis Cortez, whose organizations are helping in defending Manila Bay from reclamation.

Through the webinar, participants can learn more about how people can help protect Manila Bay from further harm.

The webinar is free but slots are limited. You may register here to reserve a slot. – Rappler.com