The skyline along Roxas Boulevard. (Yen Baet)

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) under the Philippines' Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has rejected the demand of fisher folk that it recall its approval of land reclamation projects in Manila Bay, a militant group said yesterday.

The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said its demand that the EMB recall the environmental compliance certificates (ECCs) it had issued for land reclamation projects in Manila Bay had been denied.

In a January 9 letter to Pamalakaya vice chair Salvador France, EMB Director Juan Miguel Cuna said the agency could not recall the permits or deny applications for ECCs outright "on the basis of perceived disasters alone".

"Please be guided that an ECC is a document showing that a proposed project has undergone an environmental study and the adverse environmental effects of the proposed project have somewhat been predicted and corresponding measures to arrest or mitigate the same will be implemented by the proponent," Pamalakaya quoted Cuna as saying in the letter.

"If we are to invalidate these documents, the primary intention of the Environmental Impact Assessment of protecting the environment will be put to naught," Cuna further wrote.

Cuna said the reclamation projects on Manila Bay were issued ECCs after their proponents underwent diligent due process as mandated by law.

He said Pamalakaya's request that the ECCs be cancelled required careful study and evidence should be presented to clearly show the reclamation projects would cause environmental damage if implemented.

On October 16, last year, Pamalakaya asked Environment Secretary Ramon Paje to recall all the ECCs issued to reclamation projects in Manila Bay.
In its letter, the militant group said it was disturbed by the DENR's admission it would not be a major obstacle to the reclamation projects to be undertaken by the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and local government units along the bay.

Pamalakaya particularly asked that the DENR recall the ECC granted to the Las Pinas-Paranaque Coastal Bay project involving 203 hectares that will be reclaimed in ParaƱaque and 431 hectares in Las Pinas.

The group said the P14-billion reclamation project would affect the economic and social well-being of 552,550 residents of Paranaque City and 532,330 residents of Las Pinas.

Pamalakaya said the Las Pinas-Paranaque project was just one of 36 reclamation projects covering 26,234 hectares to be reclaimed in Metro Manila, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan.

The group, along with the Koalisyon Kontra Kumbersyon ng Manila Bay, Save Freedom Island Movement, Sagip Manila Bay Movement and Anakpawis Manila Bay chapter, said the reclamation project that would pave the way for the construction of the Cavite Expressway was already affecting the livelihood of small fishermen.

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