MANILA (UPDATE) - Fisherfolk and members of Anakpawis and Pamalakaya filed a letter of complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against Mayor Lani Mercado of Bacoor City, Cavite over alleged reclamation work affecting the lives of some 700 families.
The complainants claimed that Mercado violated environmental laws such as the Fisheries Code of 1998, as well as the 2009 Supreme Court mandamus for the cleanup, restoration and rehabilitation of Manila Bay.
Included in the letter of complaint are photos of “solid materials mixed with garbage” dumped in Barangays Maliksi I and Maliksi III.
“Tingin namin, hindi ito cleanup, hindi ito safeguarding Manila Bay (We see this not as a cleanup, not a safeguarding of Manila Bay). This is part of reclamation already, one step closer to full reclamation,” Anakpawis Vice Chairperson Ariel Casilao said.
The group said that the dumping of materials is part of the 320-hectare Bacoor Reclamation and Development Project and the 100-hectare Diamond Reclamation and Development Project.
“Kahit tingnan ninyo sa ngayon, kung sinoman ang dumaan doon, nangangamoy ito,” Bacoor resident Myrna Candenator said.
("When you look at it now, whoever passes by that area, it stinks.")
In a statement, Mercado said her office has yet to receive a copy of the complaint, and will answer the issues raised at the appropriate time.
"We can only reiterate our position that the reclamation projects comply with our laws and the mandamus of the Supreme Court," she said.
"We have faithfully observed the required legal and administrative processes, including public consultations, to ensure the views of all the stakeholders are heard and their welfare protected," she added.
The mayor said the projects "adhere to President Rodrigo Duterte's vision to decongest Metro Manila and spread development to other parts of the country."
On Saturday, while leading the inauguration of the Sangley Airport in Cavite, Duterte said he will not allow any private sector-initiated reclamation projects in Manila Bay within his term through 2022.
He said that if any, only those connected with government projects and those already approved by the Philippine Reclamation Authority will be permitted.
"For the next administration, study it very carefully because that Manila there, that old city is an old city and it will decay if you add so many things in front of Manila Bay," Duterte said.