Raps filed vs Lani Mercado over Bacoor reclamation projects

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    MILITANT fisherfolks group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and residents of Bacoor City, Cavite yesterday filed criminal and administrative complaints against Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla before the Office of the Ombudsman.

    The complainants pleaded with Ombudsman Samuel Martires to order an investigation into alleged violations of environmental and fisheries laws in the implementation of the 320-hectare Bacoor Reclamation and Development Project and the 100-hectare Diamond Reclamation and Development Project by the city government.

    The group was represented by former Anakpawis partylist Reps. Fernando Hicap and Ariel Casilao and Bacoor City residents Myrna Candinato and Joel Falcis, both of Pamalakaya-Cavite.

    They said the attempt to reclaim areas of Manila Bay is violative of several laws, executive issuances, and existing jurisprudence.

    Among these were the 2008 Supreme Court mandamus requiring local governments who share portions of Manila Bay to “clean up, restore and rehabilitate” the area by combating pollution to improve water quality; President Rodrigo Duterte’s Administrative Order No. 16 dated February 21, 2019 creating the Manila Bay Task Force to fast track the rehabilitation works; and the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

    Complainants also claimed the city government has been dumping “materials mixed with garbage” to fill -in fishponds in the vicinity of Barangay Maliksi III although the project has no signages.

    They said these activities are threatening to destroy the remaining mangrove forests in the coastal area.

    Invoking RA 8550 or the Fisheries Code of 1998, the group stressed that the law barred public lands “such as tidal swamps, mangroves marshes, foreshore lands and ponds suitable for fishery operations” from being disposed or alienated.

    Rather than coordinate with the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to improve marine life and the state of fishery in Bacoor City, they said the city government is undertaking reclamation projects that destroy them.