The 22 reclamation projects that will cover at least 10 percent of the 199,000-hectare Manila Bay must be approved by the Environment department before these are gradually implemented, oficials said Monday.
At a congressional hearing conducted by the House special committee on Metro Manila Development Authority on the Manila Bay rehabilitation and reclamation, Philippine Reclamation Authority officials admitted having serious environmental issues that should be resolved by the Environment department.
“They [the reclamation project proponents] have complied with all the mandatory requirements,” said PRA Assistant General Manager Joselito Gonzales during the hearing presided by Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo, the panel’s chairman.
Meanwhile, the authorities on Monday reinstalled a barrier to prevent people from frolicking on a beach in Manila Bay as the cleanup of its polluted waters entered its second week.
The barrier in front of the US Embassy, first put up last Wednesday, was taken down on Sunday, allowing hundreds of sightseers to venture into the area famous for its view of the sunset.
Orange plastic barriers and caution tapes have resealed off the beach, preventing people going down or sitting on the seawall.
The 22 reclamation projects cover a total 20,000 hectares of Manila Bay that stretches from Cavite to Navotas. These have been widely criticized over fears of their adverse effects on the environment.
Gonzales said the implementation of the projects would be gradual.
Also during the hearing, lawmakers slammed PRA officials for their failure to address the concerns raised before approving the projects.
Deputy Minority Leader Lito Atienza warned that the reclamation area of Manila Bay would suffer “catastrophic effects” in light of various natural disasters that come into the country.
Marikina City Rep. Bayani Fernando, former chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority, is not convinced that the 22 reclamation projects will benefit the poor.
“I do not see any benefit the poor will get from these projects. It will only make the rich richer,” he said.
Rep. Ariel Casilao said the statement from PRA officials confirming 22 reclamation projects was a threat to the genuine rehabilitation of Manila Bay.
The PRA confirmed that there are 22 reclamation projects covering 20,000 hectares in the pipeline. Out of the 22, the 360-hectare Pasay reclamation project, the 140-hectare Solar City Project and the Navotas Boulevard Business Park have already been approved by the PRA and complied with the DENR process. The PRA also said there were 120 proposed reclamation projects in the whole country.