Manila Bay is currently under the process of being reinstated back to its pristine condition. The government, together with the townsfolk and other big companies are doing their best to achieve this. However, currently, a looming threat arose; it seems like a total of twenty-two (22) reclamation projects are being planned along Manila Bay that will most likely affect it in a bad way – how? These projects are actually seen to be likely polluting the 22-hectare body of water as admitted by an official of the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) to lawmakers.
At one of the Houses of Metro Manila development committee’s hearing, Joseph Literal, the PRA’s assistant general manager for reclamation and regulation said that the agency currently has 22 applications being processed from different developers.
If all these projects are approved, it would cover 11% of the bay’s 1,994-square-kilometer area or 22,000 hectares.
When Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casialo posed some questions about the status of the reclamation projects, the House Body made a discovery that the PRA already approved, in principle three (3) out of the twenty-two (22) proposals after the said developers have complied with the regulations of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The 3 proposals that were already approved are the following:
- The 360 hectare Pasay Reclamation project
- The 140 hectare Solar City Project; lastly
- The Navotas Boulevard Business Park.
Setting aside those that are near the Manila Bay, the PRA also said that in the whole country, there are currently 120 proposed reclamation projects. Meaning, these reclamation projects that would affect the Manila Bay are not the only ones we should worry about.
During the hearing about the reclamation project, Lito Atienza, a former Manila mayor and Buhay Representative, asked Literal if these reclamation projects would have adverse effects on the environment.
Literal replied “There is an effect, sir” But he also added that there would be “systems” that would be put in place to lessen the impact that these projects have to the environment.
However, Literal’s statement again was questioned by Atienza. He said that:
You are aware that there will indeed be effects on the environment, and yet you will still let these projects proceed simply because the developers are instituting so-called systems to mitigate these effects? If all these projects are allowed to proceed, the effects will be catastrophic for all of us. There seems to be a reclamation craze sweeping across the country and you just keep approving each one of them.”
Aside from Atienza, Hon. Casilao, a House member, also fumed over his statement. Casilao said that this should be halted immediately because this can be seen as a threat to the plans of rehabilitating the Manila Bay.
This must be stopped as it is threatening for the genuine essence of the Manila Bay cleanup. The reclamation should be opposed.”
On the sidelines, Casilao also had a meeting with local officials about the Bay’s Rehabilitation, and that all reclamation projects would then again be reviewed.
But who has the final say in all of this?
According to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary Eduardo Año, they could do the suggestion whether or not to push the project through, however the final say would always be Malacanang’s.
The main reason for this is because last February 4, 2019 President Duterte signed the Executive Order E.O.) No. 74 which delegates authorities to approve reclamation projects to the PRA. Under this, he also placed the agency under the office of the President, instead of being under the DENR.
What is being done to stop this?
Last week, a new House Bill, which is House Bill (H.B.) 9067 has been filed by the Makabayan bloc which declares Manila Bay as a reclamation-free zone.
With the clean-up and everything, it’s best to avoid any projects which would lead to bad effects on the bay or else all the efforts of those who helped clean the bay would all be for nothing.
What do you think about this? Should the projects be pushed through despite the plans of rehabilitating the Manila Bay because of the fact that it can help improve the country’s economy? Or should the government focus more in improving the status of the Manila Bay to eradicate pollution in and around it?