ASIA/PHILIPPINES - The Church to the President: Rethink reclamations

Friday, 13 December 2013

Manila (Agenzia Fides) - A strong and heartfelt appeal from the whole Church in the Philippines was addressed to the country's president, Benigno Aquino: the Cardinal of Manila, Luis Antonio Tagle, Cardinal Emeritus Gaudencio Rosales and 19 other bishops have expressed "deep reservations and concerns" for about 40 planned real estate projects that will reshape the Manila Bay coastline, warning of social and environmental consequences.
As Fides learns, the Catholic leaders have written a letter to President Aquino, noting that "the scientific, legal and moral basis of our opposition to the reclamation echoes God’s message". With this statement, the bishops representing dioceses mostly in the bayside communities stand in the way of multibillion-peso development projects already approved by local governments. The letter urges Aquino to "respond to the call of Pope Francis", who calls on Catholics around the world to be "protectors of God's creation".
In addition to 38 reclamation projects covering approximately 26,230 hectares of the bay, there are other planned reclamations of 300 hectares in the cities of Las Pinas and Paranaque and 148 hectares in Manila. The consequences could be tragic: experts fear flooding in areas already at risk.
"Will the projected economic gains sufficiently and justifiably compensate the damage in life, ecosystems and property in the future?", wonder the bishops. The hope of the Church is to boost tourism and cultural preservation by restoring old historical sites and buildings rather than build on reclaimed land to the detriment of the livelihood of the people and the environment. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 12/13/2013)