Manila Bay project sparks ‘sunset’ protest

Updated 12 February 2013
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Manila Bay project sparks ‘sunset’ protest

MANILA: Hundreds of Filipinos converged on the Philippine capital’s main bayfront on Tuesday for a unique “sunset watch” protest aimed at stopping what they said would be a disastrous reclamation project.
Equipped with binoculars and cameras, the protesters called on the Manila city government to repeal an ordinance granting permission for a developer to reclaim 288 hectares (711 acres) of the bay.
“This reclamation will not only block the view of the famed sunset on Manila Bay but will also lead to worsening environmental degradation, like more floods,” said Chiqui Mabanta, one of the organizers of the event.
The protest involved a broad coalition of Manila residents, artists, civic leaders and environmentalists called SOS Manila Bay, which last month filed a petition with city hall to stop the reclamation.
The protesters linked hands to form a human chain at sunset, while artists painted the famed views.
The group said the developer, Manila Goldcoast Development, had presented plans for an international cruise ship terminal to boost tourism to the area.
The complex would also house entertainment businesses, as well as a high-rise residential development.
The protesters argue the development would block vital drainage areas for the city, leading to heavier floods that already cause major damage every rainy season.
It would also eliminate prime sunset viewing on Manila Bay, which is a popular pastime for many residents who consider the area an oasis amid widespread urban blight in a heavily polluted city.
Officials of the real estate company were not available for comment on Tuesday, although its chief executive was quoted in the local media last week as defending the environmental credentials of the project.
In 2005 Mabanta and other conservationists pressured the government into saving a 2.1-hectare (5.2-acre) forest park beside Manila city that was to have been felled for development.
“We hope to also win this battle to save Manila Bay,” Mabanta said.


Two suicide bombers kill three in north Nigeria mosque

Updated 57 min 21 sec ago
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Two suicide bombers kill three in north Nigeria mosque

KANO: Two suicide bombers killed three Muslim worshippers in a mosque in a northeast Nigerian town still being rebuilt after virtual destruction by Boko Haram in 2014, sources told AFP Sunday.
The bombers, a man and a woman, detonated their explosives inside the mosque during morning prayers on Saturday in the town of Bama in Borno state.
The pair "blew themselves up in a mosque while people were praying, killing three people," said Baba Shehu Gulumba, Bama local government chairman.
A senior military officer in Bama confirmed the death toll, adding that nine people were also injured.
"Some of the injured are in a critical condition and may hardly make it. They have been transferred to Maiduguri for better medical care," said the military officer, who asked not to be named.
The attack came two weeks after residents began returning to the town which was destroyed by Boko Haram four years ago.
Bama, a major trading hub on the road to Cameroon and home to 270,000 people, was captured in September 2014, forcing residents to flee to Maiduguri, the state capital.
When it was retaken by the Nigerian military in March 2015, 85 percent of the town had been demolished by the jihadists.
Borno state officials said it would require 40 billion naira (94 million euros, $111 million) to rebuild the town, a staggering amount in the impoverished region.
According to officials 11,000 homes had been rebuilt which residents said represent one-third of those destroyed.
On April 5 the state's information commissioner Mohammed Bulama said 1,200 people had returned to the town in a phased resettlement of the 100,000 displaced residents living in camps in Maiduguri.
Boko Haram has been notorious for suicide attacks on civilian and military targets in response to army offensives that have put pressure on the militant group.
Recent days have seen a lull in such attacks.
However on Friday 10 people including four militia fighting the militants were injured when two female suicide bombers attacked Amarwa village in Konduga district, 38 kilometres from Maiduguri, according to militia sources.