Senator Cynthia Villar issued the warning during Tuesday’s public hearing of the Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change which she chairs.
“Alam mo, ang worry ko sa Manila Bay, baka lumubog ang Metro Manila kapag hindi niyo tinigilan ‘yang reclamation na ‘yan. Alam mo, parang hindi sila naniniwala that there is a possibility na lulubog ang Metro Manila but Jakarta is sinking. Lilipat na ‘yung capital ng Indonesia (You know, my worry for the Manila Bay is that Metro Manila may sink if you will not stop reclamation. It seems like they don’t believe that there is a possibility that Metro Manila may sink but Jakarta is sinking. The capital of Indonesia will be transferred) to somewhere else because Jakarta is sinking,” Villar said, also citing an island in Indonesia that she visited but is now gone.
In 2019, President Joko Widodo announced that a new city in Borneo, which may be called Nusantara (archipelago), will replace Jakarta as Indonesia’s capital.
Jakarta, home to about 10 million, is sinking at an alarming rate due to the over-extraction of groundwater, according to reports.
With the rising sea level and reclamation projects in Manila Bay, what happened to Jakarta is a possibility in the National Capital Region (NCR), Villar said.
“So, I hope we will not commit the same mistake and we should study more what we are doing,” Villar said.
The Senate panel is reviewing the reclamation permitting process of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), as well as its issuance of environmental compliance certificates to reclamation proponents.
In August, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. ordered the suspension of 22 reclamation projects in Manila Bay to review their compliance with environmental regulations.
“We are here at that point where the President has issued the suspension of reclamation projects in Manila Bay to look into, number one, the environmental impacts, (and) also the social impacts of these activities,” DENR Secretary Maria Antonia Loyzaga said in a press conference following Marcos’ order. “On the part of the DENR, we are, of course, as I said before, looking into the compliances, the conditions under which the ECCs (Environmental Compliance Certificates) and area clearances were issued.