CA junks Villar appeal on reclamation project

Posted on August 26, 2013

THE COURT of Appeals (CA) has junked the appeal of Senator Cynthia A. Villar seeking to stop a proposed reclamation project on Manila Bay for lack of new issues over its alleged cost to the environment.

“After a careful assessment... we find the same to be a mere rehash of the issues and arguments raised in the petition and which have already been passed upon,” read the ruling penned by Associate Justice Apolinario D. Bruselas, Jr. that was adopted by the court’s third division promulgated on Aug. 14. It upheld the earlier ruling on April 26.

“Villar failed to raise new matters of substance... which may warrant either a modification or a reversal of the decision,” the decision read.

Ms. Villar, who was then congressman of Las Piñas City, said in her appeal that the proposed coastal bay project will affect her constituents as well as those in neighboring Parañaque City.

In filing the case, the senator also questioned the alleged unlawful issuance of the environmental compliance certificate for the project, and lack of public consultation with those who will be affected by the project.

In its April 26 decision, the CA said Ms. Villar failed to provide “competent, credible and reliable evidence that the proposed reclamation project will expose her and the Las Piñas and Parañaque residents and their properties to catastrophic environmental damage”.

The CA also said Ms. Villar failed to establish “the causal link between the catastrophic environmental damage” linked to the coastal bay project.

“The credibility, reliability and objectivity of the scientific studies presented by respondent AllTech and the totality of the evidence presented leave very little occasion to ponder that the constitutional right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology hangs in the balance because of the reclamation project,” the decision read.

Ms. Villar claimed in her March 16, 2012 petition before the Supreme Court (SC) that the project, to be led by AllTech Contractors, Inc. in partnership with the government, will inundate two-thirds of Las Piñas, Parañaque and Bacoor, Cavite.

On April 24, 2012, the SC granted the writ of kalikasan (nature) petition of Ms. Villar and remanded the case to the CA to determine the issuance of the writ.

AllTech submitted unsolicited proposals to the local government units of Las Piñas and Parañaque in 2009 for the reclamation of around 500 hectares of land along the coast of Manila Bay (381.26 hectares in Las Piñas and 174.88 hectares in Parañaque).

Both cities approved the proposal and subsequently entered into separate contractual joint-venture agreements which was later on approved by the Philippine Reclamation Authority. -- Mikhail Franz E. Flores