Senators warn vs reclamation
Two senators have expressed concern about reclamation projects in Manila Bay, which is undergoing rehabilitation on orders of the President.
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said that reclamation projects could nullify the effects of government efforts to clean up the bay.
“We are saving the bay, that is why there is a cleanup of not only the shore, but also the quality of the water. Any reclamation project disturbs the ecology or the situation below the water,” Pimentel told reporters on Thursday.
According to Pimentel, the government should determine its priority. “Are we cleaning up Manila Bay or not? If we will conduct reclamation, all of the cleaning up will be useless,” he said.
For Pimentel, he would rather focus on making the bay clean and improving the quality of the water there which, according to the Department of Health, was still not clean enough for swimming.
Sen. Nancy Binay, Senate tourism committee chair, said she might look into the reclamation projects when sessions resume in May after the midterm elections.
Saying she was unsure if the reports about the projects were true, Binay stressed that she was not in favor of conducting reclamation activities in Manila Bay.
According to her, reclamation affects the environment. It has been blamed, for instance, for causing floods in areas that did not experience elevated water levels in the past, she said.
The militant Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives has pushed for the suspension of the bay cleanup, warning that its rehabilitation may be in preparation for 43 reclamation projects in the area.
Malacañang recently issued an executive order giving the Office of the President direct control and supervision over the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA).
The PRA has jurisdiction over 43 reclamation projects in Manila Bay. One of these was awarded to Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy, a friend and campaign contributor of President Duterte.
The militant fisherfolk group Pamalakaya said the transfer of PRA control to the President from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources placed in doubt the government’s motive for ordering the bay cleanup.
Pamalakaya also warned that reclamation projects would displace coastal communities and destroy the marine environment.
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