Scientists call out senators for cracking jokes during discussion on alarming reclamation projects

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THE ADVOCATES of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM), a group of Filipino scientists, has admonished senators for making jokes during a discussion on reclamation projects, which it said pose very serious threats to the country’s marine ecosystems.   

“Reclamation is one of the biggest threats to our seas,” AGHAM Public Information Officer and Resident Marine Scientist Jerwin G. Baure said in a statement on Thursday. “Currently, there are at least 187 reclamation projects at different stages of development nationwide.” 

Several senators, during the deliberations on the proposed 2023 budget of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources on Wednesday, made light of possible impacts of reclamation such as adding even more islands to the country’s more than 7,000 and blocking the Manila sunset view.    

“These projects threaten the integrity of important coastal ecosystems such as coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove forests,” Mr. Baure said.   

He called it “frustrating” that the government has not taken serious steps against reclamation despite urgent calls from environmentalists, fisherfolk and coastal residents.  

“Climate crisis is happening now, and we can’t wait for years before the government takes action,” he said, adding that the AGHAM would like lawmakers to investigate all reclamation projects in the country. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan