MANILA -- Senator Cynthia Villar asked the government and San Miguel Corp. to spare the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat Eco-Tourism Area (LPPCHEA) in the construction of the $10-billion international airport.
An alarmed Villar noted that building the new airport in LPPCHEA would also mean the reclamation of "one of the world's most important wetlands."
The LPPCHEA is located on the western side of the Aguinaldo Highway (now Coastal Road) and is bounded on the north by the Para?aque River and on the south by the Las Pi?as River.
According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, it covers an area of 175 hectares "consisting of mangroves, mudflats and diverse avifauna. It is the first critical habitat established in the country.”
The LPPCHEA, a mangrove forest and marine habitat in the cities of Las Piñas and Parañaque, serves as sanctuary for 84 bird species, including migratory birds from as far as Siberia. It is also home to the globally endangered Philippine duck Chinese egret and black stilt.
It has been included in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, along with world-renowned Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park in Sulu and the Underground River in Palawan.
Villar has already filed a writ of kalikasan for the protection of the LPPCHEA, but this was dismissed by the Court of Appeals.
She has elevated the case before the Supreme Court.
SMC president Ramon Ang declined to divulge the prospective location, according to Villar, who said there are reports that it will be constructed at the LPPCHEA.
She also claimed that reclaiming the eco-park could lead to massive flooding in Las Pinas, Paranaque, and Bacoor.
"They can build a new airport, but it should be somewhere else and not at LPPCHEA," Villar said, citing Sangley Point or Clark Airbase, where there are already existing airports.
Villar clarified that she is not against the construction of a new airport as this will decongest the much-maligned Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and improve its image in the eyes of foreign travelers.
"NAIA has always been tagged as worst airport so we must act to address this since it has adverse effects on the country's tourism industry," she said.