Fishermen and civil society groups petitioned the Supreme Court to stop the construction of the P740-billion New Manila International Airport in Bulacan.
This develops as San Miguel Corporation (SMC) awarded the $1.73 billion contract to Dutch firm Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V., through its wholly-owned subsidiary Boskalis Philippines Inc., to undertake land development works for the airport project. The project is set to start in the first quarter of 2021.
In a 95-page petition filed by fisherfolks from Bulakan, Bulacan, represented by Teodoro Bacon and Rodel Alvarez, Oceana vice President Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Archbishop Roger Martinez of the Archdiocese of San Jose del Monte and Aniban ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura chairperson Renato de la Cruz, the group seeks a writ of kalikasan asked the SC to issue a temporary environmental protection order to stop SMC subsidiary San Miguel Aerocity Incorporated (SMAI) from developing the land at the site and from constructing the airport.
In a writ of kalikasan they filed with the Court, the group claimed that the airport project violated several laws including the Philippine Fisheries Code, the Clean Water Act, the Climate Change Act, and the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines.
They added that the airport site covers forest and communal fishing grounds which is protected under Republic Act No. 4701 that identifies areas fronting Manila Bay as “withdrawn from sale or settlement.”
They also claimed that Manila Bay is an active and living bay. It plays host to several species of fishes, seashells, and corals, and even endangered migratory birds. These are affected by this airport and real estate development.
The airport project, according to the petitioners also faces hazards such as storm surge, flooding, and liquefaction.
The group is also asking for the cancellation of the environmental compliance certificate issued to Silvertides Holdings Corporation, a contractor for the project.
A writ of kalikasan is a legal remedy protecting the constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology.
Meanwhile, SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang said, Boskalis has committed to ensure that the area will be suitable for development. It will be designed with the highest technical and environmental standards so it can withstand potential large earthquakes, local typhoon conditions, and even future sea level rise.
He added that Boskalis was chosen to undertake the project after a meticulous selection process that included the world’s biggest and best dredging companies.
“Ang explained that Boskalis is a global dredging contractor with a rich heritage and successful track record spanning more than a century and they are known for major projects worldwide such as the ongoing development of Singapore’s Tuas Terminal Phase 2 port and its Tekong polder projects. They are also involved in the development of the Songdo International City in South Korea, the development of the Punta Pacifica Islands in Panama, the development of five islands in Makassar in Indonesia, and the ongoing development of the Ijburg residential area in Amsterdam
SMC’s Manila International Airport project, dubbed the largest investment in the Philippines, is seen as a “game-changer” for the Philippine economy.
A long-awaited solution to Manila’s air traffic congestion woes, it is seen to make the country a more viable and competitive tourist and investment destination in the region.
It is also projected to create over a million jobs and boost local economies.