Resumption of 2 reclamation projects cheered, jeered | Inquirer News

Resumption of 2 reclamation projects cheered, jeered

Reclamation projects in Manila Bay have altered the landscape in this part of Pasay City.

CHANGING BAY | Reclamation projects in Manila Bay have altered the landscape in this part of Pasay City. While a lawmaker hailed the resumption of two projects in Pasay, fisherfolk groups said all reclamation projects must be stopped due to their impact on the environment and on their livelihood. —GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

MANILA, Philippines — While the two Pasay City reclamation projects purportedly allowed to resume by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. may rake in billions of pesos in property assets for the government, an activist fisherfolk group on Tuesday questioned the “sudden turnaround” by Malacañang on the suspension order issued three months ago covering all such undertakings around Manila Bay.

The Pasay City government earlier announced that the reclamation projects under its Pasay Eco-City Coastal Development would continue as the President decided to exempt them from a suspension order he issued last August covering 22 Manila Bay reclamation projects pending a thorough government review.


Pasay City Mayor Imelda Calixto-Rubiano said the projects were deemed compliant with the requirements of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), and the city government.


The exempted reclamation projects included the Pasay 265, a joint venture with Pasay Harbor Corp. covering 265 hectares, and Pasay 360 with SM Smart City Infrastructure and Development Corp., which will be connected to the SM Mall of Asia complex.

Malacañang and the DENR have not issued any statement to confirm that the two projects have been allowed to resume, with the DENR noting that the PRA, which is under the Office of the President, has the authority to do so.

Environment Undersecretary Jonas Leones in a public briefing said it was his “first time hearing” about the supposed clearance given to the developers to continue the reclamation works in Pasay City.

“As per last week’s hearing, no activities have resumed. We will check. But after we do the environmental compliance review, we will submit our recommendation to the Office of the President and they will decide,” he said.

Fund source for housing plan

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, chair of the House ways and means committee, on Tuesday agreed with the President’s move to exempt the two reclamation projects, claiming Pasay City was “a very strong case for responsible reclamation.”

“Historical flooding maps show that the existing Pasay reclamation projects have in fact provided flood protection. This is as opposed to areas without a reclamation project fronting their shore, which have experienced more flooding than areas with a reclamation project,” the economist-turned-lawmaker said.


Salceda added that Pasay 265 and Pasay 360 “could yield as much as P563 billion in real estate assets for the government.”

“We also emphasize that under Republic Act No. 7279 (Urban Development and Housing Act), 5 percent of the [PRA’s] income is to be earmarked for housing. Revenues from these projects could fund the President’s ambitious housing program,” he pointed out.

In a statement, he also expressed hope that “other reclamation projects with complete compliance and high level of construction progress can be pushed through.”

He cited the 318-ha Manila Waterfront City Development Project of the family of Sen. Win Gatchalian which was also suspended “but appears to be fully compliant with the [DENR’s] requirements.”

Salceda noted that during his panel’s hearings, the city government of Manila “does not have objections and in fact actively supports” the project’s resumption, while the “expressed reservations” of the United States Embassy were “also clarified and were not actually objections.”

“I also emphasized that if there are national security concerns, they should properly be channeled in the Interagency Investment Promotion Coordination Committee,” he said.

Harmful to environment

However, the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Tuesday insisted that all reclamation projects in Manila Bay must be put on hold pending the cumulative impact assessment led by the DENR.

“We maintain that every single reclamation in Manila Bay is harmful to the marine ecosystem and livelihood of fisherfolk, and thus should be completely terminated,” Pamalakaya chair Fernando Hicap said.

Pamalakaya added that the DENR should also revoke the environmental permits of all reclamation projects while the assessment was ongoing.

“The worsening flood hazards and environmental problems caused by reclamation should’ve prompted the DENR to review the feasibility studies submitted by the proponents in getting environmental permits for their projects,” Hicap noted.

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The DENR declined to comment on the issue as Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga, who is currently in Dubai for the 28th United Nations Climate Change conference, said her agency deferred the matter to the PRA.

TAGS: reclamation projects

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