Suspension of reclamation projects in Manila Bay, which was announced by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. last year, is “not enough,” said Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, vice president of Caritas Philippines.
The prelate, who heads the National Laudato Si Program of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, stressed that the country needs “concrete action to protect our bay and the communities that depend on it.”
In January, Caritas Philippines and Alyansa Tigil Mina urged Marcos Jr. to issue an executive order suspending “all reclamation and seabed quarrying activities nationwide”.
The groups said the suspension is “crucial” until the environment department “completes its comprehensive assessment of the environmental and social impacts of such projects”.
The groups lamented the absence of consultations with the affected communities where sand mining, river dredging, and seabed quarrying continue.
Bishop Alminiza said dredging vessels cause damage to fishing gears, “leaving families unable to earn their living,” adding, “The extraction activities are decimating marine life.”
The prelate warned that destructive extraction projects “not only affect the food security of coastal communities but also disrupt the delicate balance of the entire ecosystem”.
The church leader reiterated the call for a multi-pronged approach that includes a nationwide executive order formally suspending all reclamation and seabed quarrying activities and the inclusion of people’s organizations, coastal communities, and civil society groups in the DENR assessment.
The prelate also called for accountability of government officials and private actors involved in environmental damage and human rights violations.
“Let us not be fooled by empty promises. We need decisive action now. Together, let us protect our coastlines, uphold the rights of communities, and safeguard the future of our common home,” said Bishop Alminaza.