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Philippines: ‘Save Manila Bay’ Campaign

Various groups in the Philippines are petitioning the Manila City government to cancel a contract that would allow the reclamation of 148 hectares covering three islands in Manila Bay.

The fabled Manila Bay sunset view

The fabled Manila Bay sunset view

Manila Bay is a famous destination to view the sunset. An online petition was initiated urging the public to support the campaign:

Sunset on Manila Bay is a spectacular experience, and is free for all to enjoy. But not for long, if developers have their way.

But this is not just about the sunset. We all know that the present aggressive development of the area cannot be supported by the existing infrastructure, and extreme pressure is being placed on already inadequate water and power supply, traffic, sewage and sanitation — problems so far not solved, which can only worsen with reclamation

Dr. Kelvin S. Rodolfo lists three reasons for opposing the reclamation. The first issue is the sinking of Manila:

The first problem is that Metro Manila is subsiding rapidly – several inches every year – due to over-extraction of groundwater by its rapidly growing population.

The People’s Network for the Integrity of Coastal Habitats and Ecosystems demands the restoration, not reclamation of Manila Bay:

What the national and Manila City government should focus is to restore the previous pristine environment of Manila Bay and surrounding communities.

Synchronized sunset viewing to stop the reclamation project. Photo from @jmaxwell88

Synchronized sunset viewing to stop the reclamation project. Photo from @jmaxwell88

Beyond the sunset view, Leon Dulce asserts that the real beauty of Manila Bay is its marine wealth:

…its beauty goes beyond the picturesque views and bird watching hotspots: advocates have long explained the significant role of the Manila Bay ecosystem to lives in the area connected all the way up to the global big picture.

While infamous for its scores of floating garbage and bouts of red tide and fish kills, large parts of Manila Bay are still teeming with sea life. Home to diverse marine ecosystems of coral reefs and sea grasses, it remains as one of the most important suppliers of fisheries in the country.

The real beauty of Manila Bay lies in the unseen: despite the pollution and abuse from development aggression, it remains a highly important source of life interconnected to various ecosystems across the country.

The developer, Manila Gold Coast Development Corporation, claims that the project will not block the sunset view of Manila Bay. It also insists that the project will not pose a threat to the marine ecosystem:

…it will not deprive Manilans, much less Filipinos, of the fabled Manila Bay sunset.

The development project, envisioned to abide by world-class best practices and standards, and with the use of state-of-the-art green reclamation technology, will not impact adversely on the environment. It will not cause any disruption of whatever nature to the bay’s marine ecology, not when studies conclusively show the absence of marine life – even sponges and ascidians that are tolerant to turbid and polluted water – in the project site and contiguous areas.

It will not cause floods and will, in fact, reduce the occurrence of floods like other reclamation models all over the globe.

The campaigners have been using the #savemanilabay hashtag to promote the cause.

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