Makabayan lawmakers want Manila Bay rehab postponed

Mara Cepeda
The progressive legislators want the government to first focus on properly consulting informal settlers who will be displaced by the Manila Bay cleanup

REHAB POSTPONEMENT? Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao poses with several fisherfolk and peasant women from Cavite who seek the postponement of the Manila Bay rehabilitation. Photo from Casilao's office

MANILA, Philippines – Makabayan lawmakers want the government to postpone the rehabilitation of the polluted Manila Bay, citing the lack of proper consultations with informal settlers to be affected by the cleanup program.

On Tuesday, January 29, the following legislators filed House Resolution (HR) 2452 together with several fisherfolk and peasant women from Cavite:

  • Alliance of Concerned Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro
  • Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao
  • Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate
  • Gabriela Representatives Arlene Brosas and Emmi de Jesus
  • Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago

The left-leaning legislators want the House to recommend to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources these 4 things:

  • Postpone the Manila Bay rehabilitation until a “comprehensive and holistic” study on its socioeconomic impact on marginalized sectors has been “diligently” carried out
  • Publicize the rehabilitation master plan 
  • Hold public consultations among marginalized sectors to be affected by the rehabilitation
  • Draft a “genuine and democratic program that will sincerely” rehabilitate Manila Bay without infringing on the basic rights and livelihood of these sectors 

The lawmakers argued that the Manila Bay rehabilitation would cause around 40 reclamation projects, leading to the displacement of some 250,000 informal settlers living along the coastline and waterways of the bay. (READ: Gov’t to deploy modern tech, boat skimmers for Manila Bay rehab)

Makabayan also said the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya-Pilipinas), a fisherfolk group, has been opposing these reclamation projects.

Pamalakaya-Pilipinas instead wants the government to do the following to “genuinely” rehabilitate Manila Bay:

  • Shut down the Navotas Controlled Dump Facility in Barangay Tanza, Manila, as well as different commercial and industrial establishments that discharge toxic waste that end up in Manila Bay
  • Declare Manila Bay as a “reclamation-free” zone
  • Restore mangroves, seagrasses, and coral reefs
  • Conduct on-site or in-city relocation for informal settlers to be affected by the Manila Bay rehabilitation 

The rehabilitation of Manila Bay – which covers 8 provinces and 178 local government units in the 3 regions of Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon – officially kicked off on Sunday, January 27. It will have 3 phases. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.