‘Manila Bay rehab is no prelude to reclamation’

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Locals are seen visiting Manila Bay and taking photos, a few days after a massive cleanup of the shore. ABS-CBN NEWS

MANILA – Environment secretary Roy Cimatu on Wednesday said that the ongoing Manila Bay rehabilitation is not a prelude to any land reclamation initiative the government is preparing for dozens of infrastructure projects.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is merely implementing a December 2008 mandamus of the Supreme Court to clean up, rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay, Cimatu said a during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay news forum.

Walang reclamation, we are just implementing the mandamus and there is no component for reclamation,” Cimatu said.

Opposition lawmakers belonging to the Makabayan bloc alleged that the inter-agency campaign to clean and rehabilitate Manila Bay could be a prelude to reclaim 32,000 hectares of coastal area for 43 infrastructure projects.

On Dec. 18, 2008, the Supreme Court issued a mandamus directing 13 government agencies to clean up, rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay in relation to their respective capacities.

A month earlier, the local governments of the City of Manila and Pasay inked a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Manila Goldcoast Development Corp. (MGDC), SM Prime Holdings Inc.; and the Pasay Harbor City consortium for at least four reclamation projects in Manila Bay.

The reclamation projects include:

  • MGDC-Manila local government 148-hectare Solar City Project
  • Southern parcel of the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road and Reclamation Project-North Sector
  • Pasay LGU’s joint venture with SM Prime Holdings Inc. for a 300-hectare and 60-hectare project
  • Pasay Harbor City consortium-Pasay LGU’s 265-hectare Pasay Harbor City project

The MOA, signed by Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and Pasay City Mayor Antonino Calixto, states that the parties agree to exert “utmost effort to cooperate with each other and extend mutual assistance in connection with their separate partnerships with private groups to reclaim huge swathes of the Manila Bay, to generate valuable coastal real estate as well as provide employment and other economic opportunities in the two premier coastal cities in Metro Manila.”

Another company was seeking to reclaim 318 hectares along the shores of Manila Bay into a multibillion-peso mixed-use development called the Manila Waterfront City.

“The coastal configuration of this 318-hectare island is adjusted away from the original Roxas Boulevard shoreline to become compliment to the old waterfront,” Waterfront Manila Premier Development Inc. chairman Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. told reporters during a press conference at the Manila City Hall in October 2017.

So far none of the proposed projects has received notice to proceed from the government, Cimatu noted, saying: “As of now, there is no approval of any reclamation project.”

The reclamation projects approved by the city governments of Manila and Pasay need to secure an area clearance from the DENR’s official of the secretary authorizing and permitting the proponents to go ahead, subject to certain conditions.

Any reclamation project must comply with environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Solid Waste Management Act.

“But my mission is the rehabilitation of Manila Bay,” Cimatu said, reiterating that the cleanup is not being done in preparation of any reclamation project. (GMA News)

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