Bulacan Aerotropolis threatens fishing livelihoods, Philippines

Proposed construction of Bulacan Aerotropolis in Manila Bay threatens 700 families in the town on Taliptip with displacement and loss of their fishing livelihoods. Thousands more fisherfolk and salt-makers would be affected by land reclamation.


A proposal for a massive airport and airport city complex, an ‘aerotropolis’, in Bulakan, Bulacan province, Manila Bay was reviewed by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) in February 2017.[1] In April 2018 the Investment Coordination Committee of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) of the Philippines approved the Bulacan Airport proposal. Fisherfolk and residents in Bulakan town called on the local government to study thoroughly the possible impacts on their livelihoods, particularly in the town of Taliptip. The project would be built on their fishponds, under threat of being ruined with soil piled on top of them.

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Basic Data
NameBulacan Aerotropolis threatens fishing livelihoods, Philippines
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Ports and airport projects
Aquaculture and fisheries
Specific CommoditiesWater
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsA mega-airport is planned, with six parallel runways and initial capacity for 100 million passengers annually, more than triple the capacity of the existing main Manila airport, Ninoy Aquino International Airport. With a budget of P735.63 billion (US$14.2 billion) Bulacan Airport is the country's most expensive transport project to date, by far the most costly of eight infrastructure projects approved as part of the Build, Build, Build (BBB) programme on 25th April by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board, chaired by President Rodrigo Duterte.[12]

San Miguel Corp (SMC), the Philippines' biggest company by revenue - a conglomerate with interests spanning infrastructure, real estate, mining, petroleum, power and food & beverages - is set to build, operate and maintain Bulacan airport and aerotropolis.[13] The plan spans 2,500 hectares, comprising 1,168 hectares allocated for the airport and 1,332 hectares for an adjoining 'airport city'.[14]

SMC's unsolicited proposal to build Bulacan Airport, revealed after scrutiny by the Department of Transportation in November 2017, featured additional SMC projects, in the form of the obligatory surface transportation network that is inherent to the aerotropolis development model.[1] An SMC-built expressway linking the airport to the North Luzon Expressway is planned, which would in turn link to SMC-backed Metro Rail Transit Line-7. By the time NEDA approved the Bulacan airport proposal in April 2018 the expressway project specified a revenue stream for SMC, an 8.4 kilometre airport toll road.[15]

The Bulacan Airport proposal will be reviewed by the NEDA Board and an inter-agency committee before it enters the Swiss Challenge stage whereby other firms can submit counter-offers which the original proponent has the option to match.[16]
Project Area (in hectares)2,500
Level of Investment (in USD)14,200,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population700 families
Start Date16/04/2018
Company Names or State EnterprisesSan Miguel Corporation (SM) from Philippines
Relevant government actorsGovernment of Philippines

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersKalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) - http://kalikasan.net/

Pamalakaya (National Federation of Small Fisherfolk Organization in the Philippines) - https://pamalakayaweb.wordpress.com/

AGHAM Advocates of Science & Technology for the People - http://www.agham.org/

People’s Network for the Integrity of Coastal Habitats and Ecosystems - https://reclamationforwhom.wordpress.com/

Barangay Agriculture and Fisheries
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Social movements
Religious groups
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Food insecurity (crop damage)
OtherDestruction of mangroves in project area
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Malnutrition
OtherHealth problems caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
OtherLoss of fishing and salt-making livelihoods
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseStrengthening of participation
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Bulacan Aerotropolis is still at the proposal stage
Sources and Materials

[7] Fisherfolk says no to Bulacan international airport, Pamalakaya-Piilipinas, 4 April 2018
[click to view]

[1] DOTr reviews San Miguel’s P700B Bulacan airport, Philippine Daily Enquirer, 17 February 2017
[click to view]

[2] Bulakenyos vs airport: Not joke to pile soil on our fishponds, Philippines New Agency, 16 April 2018
[click to view]

[4] Rough sailing for poor in Philippine town, ucanews, 13 May 2018
[click to view]

[5] Save Taliptip, Bulatlat, 20 May 2018
[click to view]

[6] Group slams land-reclamation projects under Duterte admin, 15 May 2018
[click to view]

[8] Fishers not opposed to new airport, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 8 April 2018
[click to view]

[9] Env’t groups lock arms to protest planned Bulacan airport, Melvin Gascon, 5 June 2018
[click to view]

[10] AGHAM (Advocates of Science and Technology for the People), 14 August 2018
[click to view]

[11] 600 mangroves damaged at proposed airport site, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 10 August 2018
[click to view]

[12] Bulacan airport, 7 other projects get NEDA Board approval, Rappler, 26 April 2018
[click to view]

[13] San Miguel to build $14 billion Manila airport project alone, Reuters, 4 May 2018
[click to view]

[14] Neda OKs ‘aerotropolis’ project, Inquirer.net, 27 April 2018
[click to view]

[16] Bulacan airport concession terms under review, BusinessWorld, 27 June 2018
[click to view]

[15] Duterte wants assurances SMC can pull off Bulacan airport project, BusinessWorld, 29 April 2018
[click to view]

Media Links

Twitter - Save Taliptip #NoToSMCAerotropolis
[click to view]

Save Taliptip - Facebook page
[click to view]

Residents of Taliptip face displacement and loss of their fishing livelihoods for Bulacan Airport and new metropolis, May 2018
[click to view]

Protest march against Bulacan Aerotropolis
[click to view]

[3] Saksi: Protest march vs. planong pagtatayo ng paliparan sa Bulakan, Bulacan, GMA News, 16 April 2018
[click to view]

Other Documents

Bulacan Airport plan Plan for Bulacan Airport and Airport City presented by the San Miguel Corporation
[click to view]

Mangroves cut down Stretches of mangroves had been cut down in the Bulacan Aerotropolis project area. Source: AGHAM
[click to view]

Fishing nets A Taliptip fisherman tends to his fishing nets. Source: Leon Dulce/Kalikasan PNE
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorRose Bridger, Stay Grounded, email: [email protected]
Last update29/08/2018