Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier admitted that some areas of Manila Bay would be reclaimed as the government launches its rehabilitation program.
The STAR/Edd Gumban, File
Duterte places reclamation body under Office of the President
none ( - February 4, 2019 - 12:07pm

MANILA, Philippines — Amid impending reclamation projects in Manila Bay, President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order transferring the power to approve reclamation projects to his office.

Under Executive Order 74, the Philippine Reclamation Authority will now be under the Office of the President.

The order also stripped the National Economic and Development Authority of the power to approve reclamation projects and delegates the authority to the PRA.

"The PRA shall be under the control and supervision of the OP, while the power of the President to approve all reclamation projects shall be delegated to the PRA Governing Board. Such delegation, however, shall not be construed as diminishing the President's authority to modify, amend or nullify the action of the PRA Governing Board," the order read.

Under EO 74, the PRA is mandated to seek the opinions of the NEDA, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Department of Finance on any proposed reclamation project.

Cumulative impact of projects to be considered

Duterte's latest order stressed that the PRA should not approve any reclamation project without the required area clearance and environmental compliance certificate from the DENR.

The PRA was also directed to ensure that all reclamation projects undergo competitive public bidding to ensure transparency and competitiveness.

"All proposals for reclamation projects shall be evaluated by the PRA based on their cumulative impacts rather than on a specific project basis," the order read.

EO 74 covers all reclamation projects, including those initiated by local government units and other agencies, "for which there are no contracts/agreements yet executed between the government entity concerned and a private sector proponent."

The order, which was signed February 1, takes effect immediately.

The House of Representatives' Makabayan bloc has urged the government to postpone the rehabilitation of Manila Bay as it includes the resettlement of about 300,000 informal settlers.

Malacañang, however, insisted that the planned reclamation projects in the polluted Manila Bay would benefit more people. Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the government sees the reclamation projects as a positive development.

“With respect to reclamation, even the government will benefit from that 65-35 (split), we get 65, it’s big —  that will generate income for the government and will generate jobs —  because they will be establishing structures there,” Panelo said last week. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 15, 2019 - 2:57pm

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources orders the closure of Aristocrat restaurant in Roxas Boulevard for "generating and discharging pollutive wastewater" amid the government's move to rehabilitate Manila Bay.

The Manila Bay rehabilitation program involves cleanup activities, relocation of illegal settlers as well as apprehension of establishments that violate the Philippine Clean Water Act and other environmental laws. 

Last January 22, the Manila City government has ordered the temporary closure of Manila Zoo to allow the reconstruction of its sewer lines. The zoo is located near Estero de San Antonio Abad in Malate, Manila, which directly drains into the Manila Bay.

DENR ordered establishments around the bay to put up their own sewage treatment plants last January 11.

July 15, 2019 - 2:28pm

AGHAM (Advocates of Science and Technology for the People), an activist group of science advocates, is calling on Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to revoke the Environmental Compliance Certificate issued to a contractor for the Bulacan Aerotropolis Project, saying land-filling for the project will displace fishing communities and destroy fish habitats.

"It will displace fishing communities in an area found by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute to be vital to the sustainability of fish production of the entire bay, which is a primary contributor to Philippine food security and self-sufficiency," AGHAM says.

"Moreover, reclaimed areas are highly vulnerable to storm surges, and liquefaction during earthquakes; and they increase flood risks inland. This is because such developments destroy the mangrove environment that mitigate the risks of the aforementioned geohazards," it also says.

May 20, 2019 - 1:15pm

Manila Mayor-elect Isko Moreno Domagoso says the reclamation of Manila Bay is not going to be a priority of his administration.

"Instead, we want to maximize and develop the land we already have, particularly in Ermita and Binondo. The City of Manila needs to catch up with our neighboring cities because we are falling behind," Domagoso says in a statement sent to

(Photo from Isko Moreno Domagoso/Facebook)

February 24, 2019 - 5:57pm

A group opposing the reclamation of Manila Bay is protesting the silence of the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, designated to safeguard the rights of local fishers, on the issue saying that the "24,000-hectare reclamation... [will] affect over 200,000 fisher families."

The group Manila Bay Para sa Tao, composed of fisherfolks, non-government organizations, women, students and other civil society organizations, will march to the Agriculture department on Tuesday, February 26, to voice their opposition to the reclamation project. 

"Ang Manila Bay ay hindi pribadong pag-aari ninuman. Anumang hakbang na ipapatupad sa Manila Bay ay dapat ikonsulta sa mamamayan sa paraang demokratiko na hindi gumagamit ng mga taktikang panlilinlang (The Manila Bay is not privately-owned. Any plans concerning the Manila Bay must be consulted from its constituents in a democratic way that does not use deceptive tactics),” the group says in a unity statement.

February 11, 2019 - 10:50am

Philippine microsatellite Diwata-1 can help monitor water quality in Manila Bay, the Department of Science and Technology's Science and Technology Information Institute says in a release.

Images collected on February 19, 2018, DOST-STII says, show turbidity—or the degree to which water loses its transparency due to particulates in it—at the mouth of the Pasig River.

"Using a baseline of less than 5 Formazin Nephelometric Unit (FNU, to measure water clarity) based from Figure 2, which generally indicates clear waters, more than 25 FNU units are shown to move out from the mouth of the river even extending inside the river," DOST-STII says.

Turbid waters are also seen along the shores of Bulacan and Pampanga, which, DOST-STII says, is caysed by aquaculture.

"In the figure, we can see the environmental impact of the growing demand for food to supply the growing Philippine population. To keep up with supply, masses of aquaculture farms have to be set up for intensive fish farming which is an activity commonly associated with using fish feed and fertilizers."

February 6, 2019 - 10:36am

Speaking at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay news forum, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu says the government is in the process of conducting a census of informal setllers -- there are around 230,000 in Metro Manila-- in preparation for relocating them.

He says the census includes around 30,000 located along the waterline of Manila Bay.

Cimatu says, though, that relocation will take years, since "the maximum statistical number of informal settlers relocated per year is 10,000." That means relocating all the informal settlers in Metro Manila could take more than two decades. 

Cleanup of Manila Bay has raised concerns that this, and the relocation of informal settlers, could be a prelude to massive reclamation works that activist groups say will have a huge impact on the environment and on the livelihoods of people who collect and sell mussels or tahong.

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