REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Quezon City, Metro Manila

FIFTEENTH CONGRESS Second Regular Session

House Resolution No.

2070

Introduced by Kabataan Partylist Representative RAYMOND V. PALATINO

RESOLUTION DIRECTING THE COMMITTEE ON ECOLOGY, COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES, AND COMMITTEE ON AQUACULTURE AND FISHERIES RESOURCES TO CONDUCT A JOINT INQUIRY, IN AID OF LEGISLATION, INTO THE LEGALITY AND PROPRIETY OF AN ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE CERTIFICATE GRANTED TO THE PARAWAQUE AND LAS PIN AS COASTAL BAY PROJECT THAT THREATENS TO DESTROY A MANGROVE FRONTIER PREVIOUSLY DECLARED BY THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT AS A CRITICAL HABITAT AND ECOTOURISM AREA WHEREAS, amidst the rapid urbanization and modernization of Metro Manila, a sanctuary for local and migratory birds known as the Freedom Islands lies in the Las Pinas-Paranaque area, stretching at the western side of the Cavite-Manila Coastal Road. It is the only remaining coastal periphery for mangroves, salt marshes and multifarious biodiversity in the National Capital Region. Its rich ecosystem plays a vital role for men, birds and marine life; WHEREAS, the 175-hectare wetland along the Manila Bay serves as an avian refuge for 80 different species of birds including the Black-crowned Night Herons, Kentish Plovers, Curlew Sandpipers and Siberian Ruby Throats, the endangered Chinese Egret, the Philippine Duck, and the rare Pied Avocet; WHEREAS, in this vein, Proclamation No. 1412 was signed in 2007 establishing the area as the Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA), a critical habitat and ecotourism area. The said proclamation takes into account the declaration of Manila Bay by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and by national and international organizations as one of the most important coastal wetland hosting more waterbirds than any other area in the Philippines and one of the key biodiversity sites for conservation and sustainable development; WHEREAS, the Philippines signed the International Convention on the Conservation of Wetlands and has adopted the policies of this convention relevant to the protection and sustainable development of foreshore areas. In accordance with the said convention, an area is considered a wetland of ecological importance if it hosts at 1

least one percent of the population of any waterbird species in the East Asian Flyway, which Las Pinas and Paranaque does for the Common Greenshank and even ten percent of the population of the Back-winged Stilt; WHEREAS, the declaration of the area as a critical habitat is also in tune with the provisions of the Wildlife Resource Conservation and Protection Act of the Philippines and Executive Order 578 which provide for the establishment of critical habitats critical for the survival of threatened, restricted-range and congregatory species, and provide guidelines for their management and protection; WHEREAS, on March 24, 2011, the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources granted an Environmental Compliance Certificate to the Paranaque and Las Pinas Coastal Bay Project, which shall cover the Reclamation and Development of about 635.14 hectares located along the coasts of Paranaque and Las Pinas, Metro Manila; WHEREAS, the proposed project will also involve land reclmamation and horizontal land development such as major/primary roads, bridges, and supporting infrastructure for utilities such as drainage systems and wastewater water abatement facilities, power, telecommunications, water supply and the like; WHEREAS, the impending reclamation project spearheaded by the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) continues to threaten the existence of the coastal ecosystem and communities in the LPPCHEA despite the declaration of the place as a critical habitat and ecotourism area. The proposed reclamation and development project, a P14-billion joint venture of the PRA and Cyber Bay Corporation, involves 635 hectares of upscale private residential, commercial and tourism estate. The project is beside the protected mangroves, lagoons and ponds designated as the LPPCHEA; WHEREAS, according to the Save Freedom Island Movement, the said project forms part of the controversial and "resurrected" Philippine Estates Authority-Amari deal that the Supreme Court has already voided with finality in November 11, 2003 due to issues of patrimony, social injustice, environmental crimes and unconstitutionality; WHEREAS, the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines considers the reclamation project a serious menace to lagoons and mangroves, which serve as natural barriers to storm surges, provide spawning grounds for marine life and filter pollutants from the water. The group also said that the site is an important feeding and rest area for endangered birds that migrate south to escape the harsh winter in China, Japan and Sibera; WHEREAS, the said PRA plan also threatens to worsen the already critical situation of local fisherfolk families such as the magtatahong or mussels and shellfish gatherers who depend on the area for their livelihood. The fisherfolk and shellfish gatherers of the area depend on the conservation of these mangroves and mud flats for livelihood in eight coastal barangays of the cities of Las Pinas and Paranaque; WHEREAS, according to a vulnerability assessment report in 2010 prepared by Manuel Sabater, a community environment and natural resources officer of the DENR, the development provided for in the PRA plan would greatly impede circulation of saltwater, while a proposed channel to extend the mouth of Paranaque River westward would cut across the bird roosts and breeding areas in the northern section of Freedom Island; 2

WHEREAS, local government officials and environmentalists also fear that the reclamation project might result into heavy flooding in nearby cities as the lagoon serves as an outlet for major waterways and ensures that any heavy downpour make its way to the sea quickly and not spilled to the streets; NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, that the Committee on Ecology, Committee on Natural Resources, and Committee on Aquaculture and Fisheries Resources conduct a joint inquiry, in aid of legislation, into the legality and propriety of an environmental compliance certificate granted to the Paranaque and Las Pinas Coastal Bay Project that threatens to destroy a mangrove frontier previously declared by the National Government as a critical habitat and ecotourism area. Adopted,

HON. RAY ND V. PALATINO Represe ti e, Kabataan Partylist

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