Despite wide calls from environmental conservation groups and fisherfolk organizations warning of the dire consequences of reclamation projects in Manila Bay, the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) has greenlighted the construction of a 318-hectare foreshore and offshore central business district to be built by Waterfront Manila Premier Development Inc. (WMPDI) of the Gatchalians.
The project, located at the south of Manila South Harbor, will start upon full payment of the initial regulatory fee, and the establishments within it include a gateway, marina, waterfront as well as health, entertainment, and education hubs.
The PRA has authorized the WMPDI’s request after a regional trial court in Makati declared null and void the MWPDI’s contract for alleged failure to undergo competitive bidding process and National Economic Development Authority (NEDA)’s Board evaluation.
The agency has extended the deadline for the payment of the second tranche of the initial regulatory fee for two more months until October 18, which would cover the P34.3 billion reclamation and horizontal development of the said project.
Meanwhile, several groups opposed to reclamation projects in Manila Bay are hoping to find an ally in newly-appointed Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Toni Yulo Loyzaga.
The People’s Network for the Integrity of Costal Habitats and Ecosystems (Niche), asked for a dialogue with the Environment secretary in a letter dated August 5, in order to put forward a “science- and evidence-based alternatives” to the reclamation projects in the historic Manila Bay.
The People’s Niche is an alliance convened by several environmental and people’s organizations such as Center for Environmental Concerns Philippines, Oceana Philippines, Living Laudato Si, Yacap, Agham, Pamalakaya, Alliance for Stewardship and Authentic Progress, and Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment.
They are asking for Loyzaga to review, and reassess, the several ongoing and proposed reclamation projects through independent third-party experts.
“We approach this new leadership with open minds, aware of Secretary Loyzaga’s reputation as the ‘experts’ expert’ on environmental issues, based on her solid track record of decades of hard work as a woman of science and an advocate for creating climate- and disaster-resilient Filipino communities,” said the People’s Niche.
Even Senator Cynthia Villar, who is the Senate Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change, has come out in opposition of some of the reclamation projects in Manila Bay, saying that these projects will cause flooding in Cavite, Las Piñas, and Parañaque.
“Mag-reclamation kayo sa ibang lugar but not in Las Piñas, not in front of Las Piñas, hindi talaga ako papayag dyan. Ano, palulubugin niyo kami (Do your reclamation in another place but not in Las Piñas, not in front of Las Piñas, I really won't allow that. What, are you going to sink us)?” she said in a 2019 budget hearing discussing the planned reclamation project in Bacoor that would sit in front of the Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland.
Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.
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