Last January 27 of this year, around 5,000 volunteers gathered and helped clean the Manila Bay. This program was led by Roy Agullana Cimatu, secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and supported by various government agencies such as the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and the Tourism Department. The said event, also named as “Battle for Manila Bay”, was also conducted in other places in Luzon such as Bulacan, Bataan, and Pampanga.
However, members from the leftist parties such as Anakpawis, Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Kabataan, and Alliance of Concerned Teachers claimed that this is part of the 43 reclamation projects under the Pres. Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” program that would cover more than 32,000 hectares of the bay. Lawmakers who are members of these parties filed a House Resolution 2452 seeking for the suspension of the said rehabilitation program.
The leftist lawmakers further stated that this development program was connected to the memorandum of agreement signed by Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and Pasay City Mayor Antonio Calixto involving three big companies that would build three massive projects on Manila Bay. These major infrastructure projects, proposed by Manila Goldcast Development Corporation (Tieng family), SM Prime Holdings Inc. (Sy family), and Pasay Harbor City consortium, would start soon early this year.
Massive construction projects
According to these lawmakers also, MGDC’s reclamation project would involve three 10-hectare islands which will affect the southern part of the Manila-Cavite coastal road. Furthermore, these lawmakers also said claimed that the other two are 360-hectare project by “SM” and another 265-hectare project by “Pasay Harbor City”.
Transferring of power
Meanwhile, President Duterte said that there will be no reclamation will happen without Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) and are Clearance from the environment agency. However, these lawyers are worried that the approval of Executive Order 74 is another way to support these infrastructure projects. This EO transferred the power of approving reclamation projects from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) to the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), which is an office directly under the Office of the President.
On the other hand, Malacañang is also open for the possibility of a reclamation project for as long it would create jobs and generate income for the government. According to Palace spokesperson Salvador Panelo, “with respect to reclamation, even the government will benefit from that 65-63 split, we get 65%, it’s big, that will generate income for the government and provide jobs”.