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Photo of Manila Bay seawall along Roxas Boulevard after a massive clean-up drive as ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte in January last year / PNA

Duterte not keen on Manila Bay reclamation 

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President Rodrigo Duterte expressed qualms over the proposed reclamation projects in Manila Bay because of its possible adverse impact on the environment.

Duterte, in an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN, said the idea of reclaiming 10,000 hectares in Manila Bay is “mind-boggling”.

“If it’s an investment to infuse more money into the Philippine economy, it seems to be okay. But the hugeness of the area you are trying to reclaim to me is almost mind-boggling because (of) that entire 10,0000 hectares. It will be surely for habitation. There might be some offices and residences,” he said in an interview by dzMM on Monday.

“You have to make an audit now of whether or not the environment of the entire area there can absorb the waste and where would it go after being treated. Because now, you must have a new building. Make sure you are connected to a water treatment facility,” he added.

Around 10,000 hectares of Manila Bay from Navotas City to Cavite are supposed to undergo 25 reclamation projects.

Duterte raised the possibility that he might give his nod to the proposal to reclaim Manila Bay, if he is given assurance that the plan will not destroy the environment.

“That kind of hugeness, I said, you can be very sure that habitation will follow. There has to be a concrete showing that the environment will be protected,” he said.

“Otherwise, I would say that I do not have the wherewithal. But that big, it’s stupefying. Mukhang (Perhaps), I am not ready for that. I am not ready even to say that I will grant it, not in my time, as long as there is no guarantee that the environment will be protected and the health of the people will also be safeguarded,” Duterte added.

In December last year, Philippine Reclamation Authority general manager Joselito Gonzales said at least four reclamations projects in Manila Bay have been given the green light.

The approved projects, Gonzales said, are the Navotas City Coastal Bay Reclamation Project, Pasay 360-Hectare Reclamation Project, Pasay 265-Hectare Reclamation Project, and Horizon Manila 418–Hectare Reclamation Project.

Duterte, however, said he has not signed any document that allows the reclamation in Manila Bay.

Stressing that the “final say” must come from his office, Duterte said he would not hesitate to fire those who may be found committing irregularities for approving the proposal to reclaim Manila Bay.

“There was quarreling, something to do... I hope it’s not corruption because I will get rid of you immediately,” he said.

“Final say would be the OP (Office of the President). Until now, I have not signed anything that will cede part of area there, the body of water to be converted into land,” the President added.

In January 2019, Duterte ordered the massive clean-up of Manila Bay to protect it from further contamination.

The President, in February last year, created the Manila Bay Task Force through Administrative Order 16 to expedite the rehabilitation and restoration of the coastal and marine ecosystem of the garbage-littered shoreline.

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