‘Proposed Manila Bay reclamation projects of foolish economic value’

MANILA – The proposed reclamation projects in Manila Bay are “foolish, stupid, and criminal,” lawyer Tony La Viña, who is also the council chair for Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA), said Tuesday.

“No doubt may economic value ‘yan, but it’s very foolish economic value … At some point, we will all pay the price for that,” La Viña said in an interview on GMA News TV’s “Balitanghali.”

A former Environment and Natural Resources undersecretary, La Viña said the reclamation projects pose physical threats such as flooding the surrounding residential areas – considering the topographic condition on the shores of Manila Bay.

In November 2018, the local governments of Manila and Pasay inked a memorandum of agreement with Manila Goldcoast Development Corp. (MGDC), SM Prime Holdings Inc., and Pasay Harbor City consortium for at least four reclamation projects in Manila Bay.

The reclamation projects include:

  • MGDC-Manila local government’s 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 300-hectare and 60-hectare projects
  • Pasay Harbor City consortium-Pasay LGU’s 265-hectare Pasay Harbor City project.

Signed by Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and Pasay City Mayor Antonino Calixto, the agreement states that the parties agreed 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.”

La Viña emphasized that Metro Manila has high population density and additional residents and workers in the reclamation area would mean additional accumulation of wastes that will pollute the environment.

‘We need development’

“Yes, we need development but we don’t need additional development like this in Metro Manila,” La Viña  noted. “Dapat dalhin ‘yan sa mga probinsya. Dapat dalhin ‘yan sa mga lugar na makaka-accomodate pa ng ganung klaseng development.”

According to a separate report by Maki Pulido on GMA News TV’s “State of the Nation with Jessica Soho,” 25 reclamation projects in Manila Bay are pending government approval.

Almost 10,000 hectares of the Manila Bay, from Navotas City to Cavite, are supposed to undergo reclamation.

Three out of the 25 reclamation projects are seen to receive a notice to proceed soon, covering 650 hectares in Navotas City, 148 hectares in Manila City, and 360 hectares in Pasay City.

It would impractical to implement reclamation projects when problems in water sewerage system are not even resolved, La Viña said, noting that fixing Metro Manila’s sewerage system may take 20 to 30 years.

Issues surrounding reclamation projects were brought to the fore as opposition lawmakers belonging to the Makabayan bloc alleged that the inter-agency campaign to clean and rehabilitate Manila Bay could be a prelude to the reclamation of 32,000 hectares of coastal area for 43 infrastructure projects.

President Rodrigo Duterte has given the power to approve reclamation projects back to the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and placed it under the Office of the President. He signed on February 1 Executive Order 74, a copy of which was released by Malacañang on Monday, Feb. 4. (GMA News)


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