A man of the people—and the planet: Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila
Photo: Flicker/James Sarmiento
appeal to you [President Simeon Benigno C. Aquino III] to be with us in responding to the call of Pope Francis. “Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be ‘protectors’ of creation, protectors of one another and of the environment”
Sunset on Manila Bay. Project critics worry about lost
views should the proposed development be built
Photo: Flicker/Roslyn in Starfish Island
The scientific, legal and moral basis of our opposition for the reclamation of Manila Bay echoes God’s message. The Scriptures tell us in the Book of Genesis that after creating the heavens, the earth, the sea, and man and woman, “God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen 1:31). Manila Bay is God’s creation and is God’s gift to the Filipino people. Blessed John Paul II constantly reminded us of this during. In a message for World Day of Peace titled, “Peace with God the Creator, Peace with All of Creation,” he warned us that “we cannot interfere in one area of the ecosystem without paying due attention both to the consequences of such interference in other areas and to the well-being of future generations.” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI elaborated on this in his own 2010 World Day of Peace message, “If you want to cultivate Peace, Protect Creation.”
At the heart of Catholic social teaching is the concept of the Common Good. This is what should guide us in our decision regarding the Reclamation project. So we ask, “who stands to benefit from this project?”
There is no question that the Project will generate spectacular profits for the corporations pushing the projects and for Local Government Units, many of which have serious debt problems. Should the decision to allow the project be determined only by financial considerations? Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in his last World Day of Peace Message on January 1, 2013, pointed out that “the predominant (economic) model of recent decades called for seeking maximum profit and consumption ... aimed at considering individuals solely in terms of their ability to meet the demands of competitiveness.” He said further that much tension and conflict are caused “by the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism.” He thus called for “a new economic model” and “a new model of development...as well as a new approach to the economy”.
A vision based on this “new model of development” is already being pursued to restore Manila Bay to its former richness. Our own Supreme Court decided, en banc, on December 18, 2008, in favor of the people and ordered all concerned agencies of the government to undertake a Mandatory Clean up and Rehabilitation of Manila Bay. According to research, the bay’s toxicity level has not made it unfit for marine life such as hasa-hasa, bisugo, squid, crab, shrimp, oyster and mussels, that sustains the livelihood of settlers along the coastlines of Cavite, Metro Manila, Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan. “There is hope of restoration of Manila Bay’s marine resources. Manila Bay, with all its pollution, still contains life and gives life,” Dr. Laura David of UP-MSI told the Manila Standard Today newspaper (July 24, 2013).