Groups call to put Manila Bay reclamation projects on hold until 2022
Around 18,457 volunteers have participated in the Manila Bay cleanups organized by the Metro Manila Development Authority.
The STAR/KJ Rosales
Groups call to put Manila Bay reclamation projects on hold until 2022
Franco Luna ( - February 17, 2020 - 7:54pm

MANILA, Philippines — Groups on Monday called on private firms and government agencies to heed President Rodrigo Duterte's pronouncement that any reclamation project in Manila Bay would have to wait until after his presidency. 

Infrastructure think tank Infrawatch PH on Monday called on the Philippine Reclamation Authority and on local government units covering Manila Bay to heed Duterte's commitment to ban reclamation in the area until the end of his term.

This, while fisherfolk federation Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) called for President Duterte to outright declare an executive order stopping and banning all reclamation projects in the entire Manila Bay in a statement released that same day.

“As of today, we are expecting that all Manila Bay reclamation activities at any stage are deemed indefinitely suspended. This should include the Sangley International Airport Project which was recently given a Notice of Award by the Cavite Provincial Government," Terry Ridon, Infrawatch PH convenor said in a statement. 

With the resident’s directive, the signing of the Joint Venture Development Agreement with the private proponent should also be suspended.”

Duterte in a speech over the weekend said he is not inclined to allow Manila Bay reclamation projects because of their potential impact on the environment.

“There is one important thing that I’d like to make it clear now, not during my time. I will only allow maybe plans of whatever reclamation if it’s in connection with the government projects,” the president said.

'Cautious optimism' over Duterte statement

Pamalakaya said that Duterte's vigor against private reclamation was a "welcome development" but maintained that they were careful to approach this "with a cautious optimism, with a hope that it was not merely a lip service."

Pamalakaya said that "exempting government projects could be an excuse of private development firms who would engage in a joint venture agreement with local government unit (LGU) to pursue their destructive reclamation projects."

Ridon, a former head of the Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor, pointed out that the president had already made similar pronouncement in the past two months. 

Duterte previously said in January that he was not ready to allow any proposed reclamation projects over concerns that the environment might be affected. 

In an interview with ABS-CBN, he said, “If it’s an investment to infuse more money into the Philippine economy, it seems to be okay. But the hugeness of the area you are trying to reclaim to me is almost mind-boggling because (of) that entire 10,0000 hectares."

"But that big, it’s stupefying. Mukhang I am not ready for that. I am not ready even to say that I will grant it, not in my time, as long as there is no guarantee that the environment will be protected and the health of the people will also be safeguarded,” he added. 

For his part, Pamalakaya National Chairperson Fernando Hicap said, “It should be no exception, whether private or public proponent, reclamation should be prohibited throughout the Manila Bay because it contradicts the rehabilitation program that is being undertaken in compliance with the Supreme Court order to restore its fishery and marine resources."

According to their statement, the fishers group on Monday also filed a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla and the local government of Bacoor City, Cavite for violating a number of environmental and fishing laws via the LGU-backed reclamation of fishponds that the group said were adjacent to the Manila Bay.

Among these were Administrative Order No. 16, which looked to expedite the rehabilitation of the bay, along with the 2008 Supreme Court mandamus to “clean-up, restore and rehabilitate" Manila Bay.

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