MANILA - Looming reclamation projects in Manila Bay may threaten the remaining biodiversity in the heavily polluted body of water, an environmental group warned Monday.
Rodne Galicha, country manager of Climate Reality Project, said the government should focus first on rehabilitating Manila Bay before approving any reclamation projects.
"Ang reklamasyong ito maapektuhan din pati ang bidoversity diyan, isa diyang nanganganib ang Freedom Island, pati ang Mangroves natin diyan," he told DZMM.
Two large-scale reclamation projects have applied for necessary permits to develop portions of Manila Bay.
The Solar City Reclamation Project will cover some 148 hectares, while the Waterfront City Reclamation Project will cover around 318 hectares in the polluted bay.
"Sinabi natin, Manila Bay rehabilitation. I-prioritize natin 'yan. H'wag muna nating dagdagan ng problema," said Galicha, stressing the people's right to clean and healthful ecology.
Representatives of the reclamation projects, meanwhile, assured that they have studied the plans to develop portions of Manila Bay to address concerns by environmentalists.
Edmund Lim, Vice Chairman of Manila Goldcast Development Corp. which is behind the Solar City project, said they have already secured an Environmental Compliance Certificate.
"'Yung issues ng flooding, basura, flow ng tubig, sedimentation, na-address na natin yan," Lim told DZMM, adding that big international firms have been tapped to review the reclamation project.
Lim said they are only waiting for a notice to proceed from the Philippine Reclamation Authority before they can begin developing portion of Manila Bay.
For his part, Manny Fernandez, officer in charge for the Manila Waterfront project, said they are also waiting for their applications to be approved.
Fernandez assured that the materials that will be used for the reclamation project will come from the ocean, and not from quarrying projects.
"We have successful reclamation in Pasay area. It's quite successful and helping a lot in terms of development in Pasay. So far naman it's been there several years, no problems," he told DZMM.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu earlier said the government will have to review these reclamation projects before deciding on whether or not to allow them to proceed.