Batangas-Mindoro “super-bridge”: anti-people and environmentally destructive

This article is available in Pilipino

Residents of Mindoro and neighboring islands continue to suffer from the destruction of the ocean and their livelihoods as a result of the oil spill from the sunken ship MT Princess Empress. This aggravates their already prolonged suffering from severe brownouts resulting from the incompetence of the Department of Energy and the local electric cooperative.

Instead of fairly compensating the affected people, an environmentally destructive project is now being proposed by the Marcos Jr regime, in collusion with the big bourgeois comprador Ramon Ang. Ang and his companies are among those who support the services of the unlicensed ships of RDC Reied Marine Services, the company that owns the MT Princess Empress. Ang took over the companies of Eduardo Cojuangco Jr, the biggest crony of the father of the current president and former dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

To cover-up accountability, Ang revived the Batangas-Mindoro “super bridge” project that he claims will be the “solution” to the Mindoreños’ suffering. He insists that the bridge will bring “growth and development” not only to Oriental Mindoro but to the entire region of Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan.)

The destructive project was first proposed in 2011.

Destroying livelihood and the environment

The Batangas-Mindoro “super bridge” is a 15-kilometer bridge that will connect the Mindoro island to Luzon island on the Batangas side. According to the proposal, it will start in Barangay Ilijan in Batangas City, pass through Isla Verde and connect to Barangay Sinandigan in Puerto Galera. In the project’s publicized details, its “deepest point” reaches up to 300 meters below sea level. It is said to be able to withstand winds of 354kph. (It means that it could be destroyed by a typhoon as strong as Yolanda in 2013 bearing winds up to 378kph.)

According to Ang’s latest estimate, the bridge could be built within five years at a cost of ₱18 billion. It boasts of being the first “floating bridge” in the Philippines and the longest in Asia. Bridges of similar design are often built for temporary use and only for short distances.

The bridge will cross the protected Verde Island Passage (VIP), which is called the “center of the center of marine biodiversity” of the whole world. The VIP covers 1.14 million hectares of sea surrounded by the provinces of Batangas, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque and Romblon. The largest number of shorefish species in the world can be found here. To date, 1,736 marine species have been documented in the area, several of which are considered endangered species. It is an important site for scientists and researchers.

More importantly, the resource-rich VIP is a fishing ground for hundreds of fishermen. The livelihoods of an estimated two million people in five provinces depend on the VIP.

In 2018, the local governments of Batangas and Mindoro provinces drafted a petition to have the VIP declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. But for now, the local government’s negotiations with Ang is in full swing to revive the project.

In addition to the oil spill and the Batangas-Mindoro super bridge, Ang is also involved in other destructive projects in the VIP. In 2021, his companies were among those pushing to mine liquid natural gas in the area. This follows the construction of 27 new plants and seven LNG terminals in the coastal communities of Batangas.

Apart from destroying the VIP, Ang is also notorious for destroying mangroves and evicting fishermen in Bulacan in the ongoing construction of the multi-billion Aerotropolis project. Another destructive project of his is the Pasig River Expressway which is strongly opposed by the residents of the city.

Batangas-Mindoro "super-bridge": anti-people and environmentally destructive