Lito Atienza hits revival of Manila Bay reclamation
But city engineer asks: Why pick on us yet be mum on Pasay’s MOA?By Jaymee T. Gamil
Philippine Daily Inquirer
He thumbed it down before, so why is he allowing it now?
Former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza posed this question to the incumbent Alfredo Lim concerning a city ordinance passed in June last year which allowed reclamation projects to resume on Manila Bay.
Atienza was referring to Ordinance No. 8233 which authorized Lim to file an application with the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) to develop portions of bay.
It repealed Ordinance No. 7777 which banned reclamation activities and was passed in 1993 under Lim’s earlier term when Atienza was his vice mayor and presiding officer of the city council.
Lim’s camp, however, lashed back by asking why Atienza seemed to be singling out Manila and was silent all along on other reclamation projects on the bay, like the one in Pasay City, if indeed he was concerned about the environment.
In a press conference on Friday, Atienza said allowing reclamation to resume without prior public consultation would have “grave environmental and economic implications.”
“It’s as if, with one stroke of the pen, Manila Bay as we know and appreciate it will effectively be erased,” he said. “We already suffer from flooding in the area now. What more if the reclamation pushes through?”
“Why did [Lim] change his mind?” Atienza asked. “Why did they prepare this ordinance in a most secretive manner? Even the barangay chair in front of the bay didn’t know. How did the Vice Mayor (Fransisco Domagoso) handle this? Was the environment department even consulted?”
He recalled that Ordinance No. 7777 was passed to prevent a PRA-approved reclamation by Manila Goldcoast Development Corp.
“I committed to protect the bay area. The Goldcoast project would have had a bad impact. Even then President Fidel Ramos, who was inclined to appreciate the project at first, eventually agreed,” Atienza said.
Lim revived the reclamation project through a consortium agreement with Goldcoast in April. The agreement indicated that the PRA had reaffirmed the project that was awarded to Goldcoast in 1991.
The project envisions a business center rising on the southern end of Manila Bay, including portions fronting the Manila Yacht Club and the Philippine Navy headquarters. Proceeds from the consortium would be shared between Goldcoast (70.55 percent) and the city government (29.45 percent).
Atienza said he was considering filing a petition for a writ of kalikasan to stop the reclamation.
Reached for comment, city engineer Armand Andres maintained that the reclamation project was still “in the planning stages” and that it will be a national government undertaking under the PRA.
“This is for the city’s development,” he stressed.
On Atienza’s warnings that the reclamation may be detrimental to the environment, Andres asked: “Why did (he) never question the reclamation in Pasay? Now look at it. It has flourished.”
The City Hall official was referring to the area that now hosts SM Mall of Asia and a growing commercial hub.
Andres added that, to his knowledge, the reclamation approved by Lim would not take up the whole stretch of the Baywalk strip—an Atienza project on Roxas Boulevard—but only a portion of the bay near the yacht club.