Manila ( AsiaNews
/ EDA ) - In an open letter to President Benigno Aquino , 21 Filipino bishops -
including Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle - are asking him to stop the reclamation
projects of Manila Bay, which threaten to alter forever the delicate eco-system
in the area. In
the letter, written November 19, but only published these days, the bishops
express their " deepest concern " about 38 work in progress, intended
to "renew" the coastal area of the capital. According
to plans, the reclamation works would allow create large portions of land, to
the detriment of the sea. However
, the bishops warn, the work as a whole is likely to have " dramatic
consequences " on the local flora and fauna and people .
In the framework of the National Reclamation Plan, the Aquino government wants to launch 102 projects of urbanization, which will cover 38 thousand hectares of coastline, of which 70 % (or 38 projects and an area of almost 27 thousand hectares ) in Manila Bay. Of these 38 projects , there are three in particular that raise deep concern and perplexity among the prelates , supported by authoritative scientific studies and battles of environmental groups.
The first concerns the construction of a giant fairground for tourists in Manila, over 148 acres large and renamed "Solar City". A second would occupy 300 acres in Las Pinas / Paranaque , and the third would extend over an area of 300 hectares in Pasay . The last two places are included in the metropolitan area of the Philippine capital.
Relying on findings from in-depth scientific research, the 21 bishops warn the government against the dangers arising from indiscriminate reclamation of the bay. It will worsen the effects of already catastrophic flooding, that cyclically affect the areas . Similarly, portions of land stolen from the sea will be even more exposed to the heavy rains and flash floods that always accompany typhoons, as was the case in 2011 for the Cyclone Pedring and in November this year with the devastating typhoon Yolanda . Finally, the continuous seepage of water into the ground, where fragile foundations of buildings and structures would be placed, will leave them without any resistance to violent earthquakes that hit these regions.
It is not the first time that environmental movements, the Filipino Catholic Church and international NGOs have formed a united front on sensitive issues , asking instead for focus efforts on the development of "cultural riches " which the territory already offers. This particularly applies to the Manila Bay area which should be maintained and enhanced rather than endangering the coast with an " irretrievable degradation of the environment ."
In a letter to President Aquino, the bishops are asking whether the authorization that has given the go-ahead to projects is not only "determined by mere financial interests " ; the prelates recall the duties to which the head of state is bound, which include the duty "to ensure the common good," and not only consider the profits which benefit only the promoters of the ( alleged) development programs of the bay. Finally, ensuring Aquino "their prayers," the bishops conclude the call expressing their confidence that he will choose " the best solution " to solve a problem that worries "all the people of the Philippines ."