EVERY policy has a reverse gear.
By pausing Manila Bay reclamation activities, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Romualdez Marcos Jr., as of the moment, merely placed it on neutral, Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Ralph Recto said Thursday.
Recto said this will give President Marcos time to sift through the mountain of reclamation applications approved and proposed.
Per Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) data, approved and proposed – up and running and up and coming – reclamation projects cover 25,120 hectares, or 433 times the size of Luneta, he said.
“It is safe to assume that this is not in Manila Bay alone – the dumped sand you see there is just the tip of the iceberg – but all over the country,” Recto said.
As of December 9, 2022, Recto said the PRA, using its own classification, said reclamation in 2,422 hectares are deemed “approved projects”; 3,517 hectares are “approved projects with PRA permit”; 3,345 hectares under “Transitory Provision of Executive Order 74”; 2,489 hectares have been “pre-qualified under E.O 74”; and 13,347 hectares “in the pipeline under E.O. 74.”
To get to the bottom of reclamation projects, Recto said the President has got serious digging to do.
“Reclamation per se is not bad. Netherlands is built on land reclaimed from the sea. Tiny Singapore enlarged its real estate footprint through judicious reclamation. Manila port, Roxas Boulevard, the CCP Complex were once under water.
But due to the ecological impact it creates, which could ripple inland if it causes a dam effect that could seasonally flood low lying communities, the reclamation project is held to a higher bar of standards and compliance,” Recto said.
“Halimbawa, kung tatayuan ng Philippine Cancer Hospital ang na-reclaim na dagat, panalo ang bayan dyan at ang darating na salinlahi. At kung sasabihin na kailangan na natin mag-reclaim kasi ang kakarampot nating international seaport ay parang embudo na nagdudulot ng buhol-buhol na traffic at perwisyo sa mga exporters, by any yardstick, that is reclamation imbued with public interest,” Recto said.
“By the way, PRA, and its predecessor the Public Estates Authority, is an agency which, like a ball, has been kicked around as to what department it shall be placed under, sometimes depending on which the political wind blows,” he said.
Through several executive orders by different presidencies, nilagay sa ilalim ng DPWH, may taon na nasa DENR, and the latest, under E.O. 74 signed by President Duterte, sa Office of the President na mismo.”
“But what all the presidents never dared to change, and they left untouched in those orders, is the requirement to secure an Environment Clearance Certificate, based on an Environment Impact Assessment, before a reclamation project can proceed.
Hindi naman siguro behest ECCs ang mga ito? Dapat din bisitahin kung ang katas ng bayan mula sa reclamation ay tama at hindi lugi ang pamahalaan.
Mula 2016 to 2021, sa loob ng anim na taon, P10.8 billion ang ni-remit ng PRA in taxes and dividends to the national treasury. There is a gold rush in reclamation.
President BBM has every right to sift through the sand and find out which are beneficial to the people, the government, the economy, and which are not,” Recto said.