Pamalakaya seeks DENR help to stop mining firm’s dredging ops in Cavite
MANILA, Philippines–A progressive fishing group has urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to deny a mining company of its permits to dredge within the municipal waters of Cavite for a reclamation project.
The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) is pertaining to Silverquest Mining Resources Inc. (SMRI) as it is currently securing an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) from DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) to begin a seabed quarrying project.
It would involve the dredging of mud, silt, and sand across 2,124 hectares of seabed to supply the 318-hectare Manila Waterfront Project with quarry materials.
SMRI’s seabed quarrying project is valued at P12 billion. According to Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) director Wilfredo Moncano, granting a company with an ECC rests on EMB and is only one of several permits that the company has to secure before it could start operations.
However, Pamalakaya believes that the project will push through given that the Manila Waterfront Project is a joint partnership with Manila’s local government unit.
In fact, Acesite (Phils) Hotel Corp. of the Gatchalian family already expressed plans to mortgage its Waterfront Manila Hotel and Casino in Manila to raise P8 billion to bankroll the said reclamation project together with Waterfront Manila Premier Development Inc. and Manila’s LGU.
“Dredging-related stressors such as movement of solid particles, habitat loss, discharging of toxic contaminants, and noise pollution inflict damage to marine biodiversity. It can cause trauma and even death to fish species that thrive in the bottom of the sea. Consequently, it has a huge impact on the livelihood of small fishers who would endure a decrease in fish catch,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.
Several fishers from Manila and Cavite troop to the waters of Manila Bay to catch squid, anchovies, mackerel, and white shrimp among other marine species.
The P34.38-billion Manila Waterfront City project involves the construction of a central business district, a gateway, a marina, as well as entertainment, health, and education hubs. It also aims to decongest Manila and boost opportunities in the capital.
It also requires at least 60 million cubic meters of backfilling materials for land reclamation. A total of four sea vessels will be used by SMRI to dredge the proposed quarry area.
“Reclamation has been widely opposed and proven as environmentally disastrous by fisherfolk and even science and environmental experts. It must be a no-brainer for the DENR to reject this proposal as it obviously runs contrary to its mandate to rehabilitate Manila Bay and restore its waters for fishery resources development and recreational use,” Hicap said.
In a phone interview with Environment Undersecretary Jonas Leonen, he said that the DENR is prioritizing rehabilitation efforts in Manila Bay.
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