So much for all that
THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - February 18, 2019 - 12:00am

Joseph Literal, Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) assistant general manager for reclamation and regulation, admitted at a Senate hearing that they are currently in the process of processing 22 applications for reclamation projects in Manila Bay.

He also admitted that in the event these projects push through, they may cause pollution in the bay, and may even affect the environment. The projects will cover twenty-two thousand hectares, or equal to eleven percent of the size of Manila Bay.

Literal argues that they will not approve a project if developers do not agree to placing "systems" to reduce the negative effects of the reclamation, and subsequent pollution. He did not explain what those systems are.

Some lawmakers bristled at the revelation. After a very public event to clean up Manila Bay of its tons of waste and high coliform levels, with plans to rehabilitate the area similar to what was done in Boracay, there are now planned reclamation projects that will do the same environmental damage government has been calling out businesses for.

Eleven percent of the area of Manila Bay will be lost to these projects if approved. Three projects have already been approved by the PRA, just waiting for President Duterte's signature. One of those projects is under one of Duterte’s close friends and political contributors.

Apparently he still has the final word on reclamation projects. The PRA has been transferred under the Office of the President from NEDA, to “streamline line agencies”. It’s funny since NEDA does the feasibility studies of projects, whether economically viable.

The PRA also admitted that they are processing 120 reclamation projects nationwide. The administration's intentions in cleaning up the bay are good, which has resulted in the closure of establishments like the Manila Zoo.

The DILG has also been warning establishments and local government units to conform to environmental standards or face closure or administrative charges. So do we really need these projects?

Projects that the PRA has admitted would have detrimental effects on the environment, such as pollution. Studies have also shown that excessive reclamation may affect coastal towns and cities. Navotas was cited as one of those, suffering from flooding.

Are the economic benefits greater than the negative effects on the environment, which this administration has chosen to address? There seems to be a rush to approve projects, with three just awaiting the signature of the president, with three years left on his term.

So much for the beautiful view of Manila Bay every sunrise and sunset, if buildings would now obstruct its view. So much for all the fanfare with regards to cleaning up the bay, only to have companies start filling it up with earth and soil.

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