THE Supreme Court has been asked by fisherfolk and civil society groups to issue a Writ of Kalikasan against the construction of the San Miguel Aerocity airport project in Bulacan.
The petitioner are fisherfolk based in Bulakan represented by Teodoro Bacon and Rodel Alvarez, together with civil society group Oceana through its vice president Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Archbishop Roger Martinez of the Archdiocese of San Jose del Monte, and Aniban ng mga Mangagawa sa Agrikultura led by Renato de la Cruz, the group’s chairperson.
The respondents are Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu, Environmental Management Bureau Region III Regional Director Wilson Trajeco, Department of Transportation Secretary Art Tugade, San Miguel Aerocity President/CEO Ramon S. Ang, and Silvertides President/CEO Hercules V. Galicia.
SMC Aerocity, with its subsidiary-contractor Silvertides Holdings, plans to construct the New Manila International Airport which will be built on a 2,500-hectare foreshore area of Bulakan, Bulacan – classified by the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority as forestland and permanent forest land.
The airport is part of an envisioned 12,000-hectare township that features a residential zone, government center, seaport, and an industrial zone.
The case was filed before the SC to stop the reclamation of Manila Bay, save the sardines, shrimps and crabs, endangered migratory birds and mangroves, marine habitats and ecosystem in Manila Bay, and full compliance with fisheries and other environmental laws, thereby protecting natural life support systems and the fisherfolk who depend on these for livelihood.
According to the petitioners, Manila Bay serves as the main source of livelihood for residents in the coastal cities and municipalities of the National Capital Region.
Also, Manila Bay contributes a sizable portion to the total fish production of the country. According to the 2018 data of the Philippine Statistics Authority, municipal, commercial, and aquaculture workers of Metro Manila alone yielded an estimated 103,882.87 metric tons of fishery products from Manila Bay. Manila Bay is a rich sardine spawning ground, according to the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute.
“We have to keep on working together in the protection, rehabilitation, and conservation of Manila Bay, not only for its economic importance and contribution to national food security, and for its historical, cultural, and aesthetic value but to make ecosystems and people resilient to the impacts of climate change,” said Oceana Vice President Gloria Estenzo Ramos.
The Writ of Kalikasan is a legal remedy that provides protection of a person’s constitutional right to a healthy environment. Article II Section 16 of the 1987 Constitution states that the “state shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.”