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Reclamation of Navotas coastline endangers mangrove rehab

NAVOTAS City, Feb. 19, 2012—The rehabilitation of mangrove forests along Navotas City coastline will not be successful if the city and national governments would pursue the reclamation of more than three (3) kilometers (2.05 statute miles) of the bay.

In a statement, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said the P50 billion (US$1,174,260,165.57 based on the prevailing foreign exchange rate of P42.58:$1.00) reclamation project will not make Navotas City more prosperous, rather it will endanger not only the mangrove forests, but also the livelihood and the homes of the small fisherfolks in the 14 barangays affected by the project.

It was the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-National Capital Region (DENR-NCR) who had announced the plans of establishing a 10-hectare mangrove enrichment site along the Navotas’ shoreline. The said mangrove (or bakawan in Tagalóg) forest will serve as a sanctuary for fishes and birds, and will also ensure the productivity of the nearby waters as mangrove forests were also a breeding site for some fishers and even for mudskippers, from the family of gobies, as well as some crustaceans such as shrimps and crabs.

Aside from being a sanctuary for marine life, the mangroves also served as a natural shield against raging waves brought by typhoon Pedring (International Name: Nesat) and had saved Brgy. Tanza, also in Navotas City.

Hicap said that if the project would push through, it will shrink the mangrove rehabilitation area, thus resulting to its failure to restore the Navotas bay’s former health.

Meanwhile, the project was entered into an agreement by former City Mayor and now Rep. Tobias “Toby” M. Tiangco in 2009, and has three phases: The Phase 1 of the project will serve as flood protection preventing the entry of seawaters during high tide along the seashore of the city; Phase 2 will involve the reclamation of 48.41 hectares of offshore land; and Phase 3 will reclaim 22.04 hectares more of the Navotas City shores.

City Planning and Development Officer Engineer Rufino Serrano in a statement said that included in the project is the creation of the longest baywalk, as the Department of Public Works and Highways-National Capital Region proposes, which will start from C-4 road to North Luzon Expressway, passing the cities of Malabon, Valenzuela and Caloocan, all in NCR.

He also said that they are planning to create a multi-use hub, which covers 145 hectares of shoreline, that is stretched from C-4 road, in Exterior Navotas up to Brgy. Tangos, in the innermost part of the city.

The construction firm that won the bidding for the project is First Seafront Renew Incorporated, represented by Atty. Florencio Orendain and president Victoria Pacis. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]