The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) has served as the main national and international air travel hub for the Philippines for decades, and any regular traveler through there can tell the public that air traffic has become frighteningly congested. A proposal by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has called for the construction of a “New Manila International Airport,” one to be sited on Bulacan. This week following a meeting of the project’s Bids and Awards Committee a contract valued at P734 billion was awarded to San Miguel Holdings Corporation to build the Bulacan airport. But not everybody is happy at this particular turn of events.
Inquirer.net reports that environmental advocates have lobbied at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) this Thursday, August 15, to have them block the construction project for the new international airport in Bulacan by revoking the reclamation clearance handed to San Miguel Holdings Corporation (SMHC). According to the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, the construction will have detrimental effects to the ecosystem of Manila Bay due to the project necessitating reclamation of land from the sea. Bulacan province bounds the coastal land enclosing the bay along with Metro Manila, Cavite, Pampanga and Bataan.
A statement by Kalikasan PNE director Leon Dulce argues that only land preparation was covered by the DENR environmental compliance certificate (ECC) given for the Bulacan airport, and that the building of the infrastructure can still inflict environmental harm on the bay while it is going on. He insists that until a thorough cumulative risk assessment of the project’s impact on Manila Bay can be done and adjudged as non-environmentally threatening, then no development must be carried out on site. Dulce indicated a number of mangroves and fish conservation areas in Manila Bay that might be damaged when building starts.
Director Dulce also called out President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider the ramifications of the Bulacan airport compared to his earlier directive of rehabilitating the Manila Bay ecosystem similar to that of Boracay Island. He requested the President to simply cancel the project, warning him that to see the airport being developed will mark Duterte as a “hypocrite” regarding environmental rehabilitation.
SMHC President and COO Ramon Ang had put forward the New Manila Airport project back in 2016, to be erected at a 2,500 square-meter area in the Municipality of Bulacan in the namesake province, along the coast of Manila Bay just 30 kilometers away from Metro Manila. Following the contract award, the DOTr has requested SMHC to submit all required documents for the project to the bids and awards committee within the next 20 days.
Image courtesy of Esquire Philippines