Ongoing reclamation projects in Manila Bay draw mixed reactions from senators
MANILA, Philippines – Filipino lawmakers have different reactions on the ongoing reclamation projects in Manila Bay.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri on Thursday said there might be a need to conduct a thorough study on the reclamation projects in Manila Bay to determine whether the government should order its cessation or not.
“Maybe [it] is necessary to make an impact study — a real [and] honest to goodness impact study on all these developments,” said in an interview over DWPM Radyo 630.
This comes after the United States (US) Embassy in the Philippines aired its concerns about the potential negative, long term, and irreversible impacts of ongoing reclamation projects in Manila Bay.
“The US Embassy can officially write [to] the [Department of Environment and Natural Resources], but they should have done it earlier. Sana noong nagkaroon ng stakeholder meeting, kasi may mga [environmental compliance certificates] ‘yan eh, ‘di naman lalabas ang environmental compliance certificates kung walang public hearings,” said Zubiri.
(The US Embassy can officially write to the DENR, but they should have done it earlier. I hope they did during the stakeholder meeting, because these [projects were given] environmental compliance certificates, the environmental compliance certificates will not be given without public hearings.)
In a separate forum on Thursday, Senator Francis Escudero pointed out that reclamation projects are among the biggest initiatives being carried out by the private sector and it would be disadvantageous to discontinue it over “simple fears.”
“The DENR should have looked at that before they granted approval. Isa na ‘yan sa pinakamalaking proyekto na ginagawa dito ng pribadong sektor. Mahirap [naman] na dahil sa simpleng pangamba ay hahadlangan natin ito. Mas magandang alamin talaga ang totoong kwento,” Escudero said.
(That is one of the biggest projects being done here by the private sector. It will not be good that because of simple fear we will discontinue it. It’s better to actually know the real story.)
Meanwhile, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said “he knows for a fact” that the reclamation projects in Manila Bay underwent legal processes.
He also admitted that his father is involved in the said project.
“Hindi ko naman ipinagkakaila na yung father ko is connected to that business. Ako personally hindi ako connected dyan, hindi ko nga alam ang mga activities but I know for a fact na itong mga reclamation project, yan yung sa likod ng Sofitel Plaza, ibang reclamation dyan lahat yan dumaan ng proseso,” said Gatchalian in a Kapihan sa Manila Bay on Wednesday.
(I do not deny that my father is connected to that business. I personally am not connected there, I don’t know the activities but I know for a fact that these reclamation projects, the one behind the Sofitel Plaza, and the other reclamations — these all went through a process.)
Gatchalian then stressed that it would be “unfair” to just terminate the said projects, repeatedly saying that these all are legal.