‘Declare Manila Bay reclamation-free zone’

As the Department of Environment and Natural Resources marks the first year of Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program with bragging about lower coliform levels in Manila city bayside, former Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao urged Congress to pass House Bill 257 Declaring Manila Bay as “Reclamation-Free” Zone as a serious measure for genuine rehabilitation.

“DENR’s claim is so narrow that it could only cite positive indicators on the bay within the city of Manila when legally it involves a coastline of 190 kilometers and near 200,000 hectares, from Bataan province in the north to Cavite in the South and they did so cited (sic) on their very own Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program,” the former lawmaker said in a press statement.

Also, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu cited that the fecal coliform at the Padre Faura outfall in Manila is down to 920,000 most probable number per 100 milliliter (MPN/100mL), which was the lowest among with at Rajah Sulayman/Remedios drainage and at the Manila Yacht Club outfall, but is far away from its supposed level at 100 MPN/100mL to fall under the Class SB for coastal and marine water, as set by the Environmental Management Bureau.

At the same time, the urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY)-Metro Manila on Tuesday condemned Cimatu’s “anti-poor” remarks on massive evictions of urban poor near Manila Bay. 

Maristel Garcia, Kadamay Metro Manila spokesperson, questioned the degrading remarks of Cimatu against the poor and for blaming them as the core reason of the problem.

“Instead of demeaning the poor, why not address the incapability of the Duterte governmebt to provide better opportunities and social services among the marginalized particularly on-site housing program,” said Garcia.

“The government should have a better and precise urban development plan that must cater the interest of the people for the common good and not only for those few capitalist with hidden greedy agenda in the Manila Bay Area,” Garcia said.

Kadamay Metro Manila also stands with the urban poor residents affected by the “exclusionary and double-standard” rehabilitation plan of Manila Bay. 

“The urban poor are merely victims of injustices which deprived them at all cost. It was severely intensified by outcasting them not only in the economic aspect in the country but also in the development planning wherein their voice disregards,” Garcia said.

“The decade of rotten system of government and incapability to ease poverty are the major cause of the problem, not the people in slums,” Garcia stressed out.

Kadamay Metro Manila also tells Cimatu that Filipino urban poor and workers do not deserve the continuing dislocation from their homes and working areas. 

“As we already know, there have been reports of the neglected inhumane conditions of many relocation sites. The government must put in mind the side and concerns of the toiling masses,” said Garcia.

The group also insisted that evictions that push poor Filipinos away from their homes just to give way for the development does not help alleviate the life of the people but rather worsened the status quo due to the anti-poor programs of the government.

“Manila Bay rehabilitation must be inclined of better opportunity for the marginalized. This rehabilitation should be pro-people and well-planned with the participation of the people. Poverty must not be used to victimize the margins and should not be the reason to blame the needy,” Garcia ended.

Topics: Department of Environment and Natural Resources , Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program , Manila Bay , Roy Cimatu
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