Villar urges Aquino to halt reclamation projects

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Sen. Cynthia Villar. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Cynthia Villar on Saturday asked the Aquino administration to impose a moratorium on reclamation projects because they tend to destroy seaside communities’ natural protection against deadly storm surges.

Villar made the call in a statement as she also lauded President Aquino’s directive to put up more mangrove forests in coastal areas all over the country as a natural barrier against typhoon-generated waves.

“The inclusion of no-build zones in coastal areas in this program is a step in the right direction. I also suggest that this program include a moratorium on reclamation because the reclaiming of land could lead to the destruction of natural marine barriers like mangroves,” Villar said.

Thousands of residents in coastal areas in Eastern Visayas died as a result of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” which generated meters-high storm surges that caught the victims by surprise.

The senator also welcomed President Aquino’s Executive Order No. 146 delegating to the National Economic and Development Authority the approval of any reclamation project.

Villar, a staunch opponent of proposed reclamation projects on Manila Bay, said the planting of mangrove trees would be part of a comprehensive program of environmental protection being prepared in reaction to the devastation wrought by Yolanda.

Villar  has asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to not only concentrate mangrove reforestation efforts in areas hardest hit by Yolanda but also in other coastal areas.

“We have seen how a storm surge flooded Roxas Boulevard and caused damage to hotels and other establishments in the area. This means urban areas like Metro Manila are as vulnerable as any coastal area in the country,” Villar said.

“Our action should now be definite because these storm surges, as experts tell us, are not new,” she added.

Villar said she had information “of records dating as far back as 1897 when 7,000 lives were lost and in 1912 when some 15,000 died in the Visayas due to typhoon and tidal waves.”

“The experts also tell us that storm surges will be more frequent because of climate change,” Villar said.

She said a 2012 study conducted by the University of Cambridge revealed that “mangroves slow the flow of water as the surge moves inland and reduce the waves riding on top of the surge, lowering water levels and reducing the damage behind the mangroves.”

She called on the government to implement the National Greening Program under Executive Order No. 26, which mandates the planting of 1.5 billion trees on 1.5 million hectares of land, including mangrove reforestation.

Source: Inquirer
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