PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Saturday said he would not allow the private sector to pursue new reclamation projects in Manila Bay, saying these will put the Philippine capital environmentally in peril.

“Not during my time. I will only allow maybe plans of whatever reclamation if it is in connection with a government project. I will not allow massive reclamation for the private sector. Not now. Because if you approve one, you approve all. Ganun ’yun eh (That’s the way it is),” he said in a speech at the inauguration of the P486-million Sangley Airport Development Project (SADP).

Mr. Duterte said only government-related reclamation projects and those approved by the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) will be allowed to proceed.

“You know, when you govern… at least you try very hard to be equal and fair. But if I do that, of which I am wont to do, I will choke Manila. The entire Manila City would be environmentally at peril. So pag-aralan ninyong mabuti ’yan (You have to study that very carefully),” he said.

Mr. Duterte said the next administration should study proposed reclamation projects very carefully, “because that Manila there, that old city is an old city and it will decay if you add so many things in front of Manila Bay.”

This was not the first time Mr. Duterte expressed his opposition to reclamation projects in Manila Bay.

Last year, Mr. Duterte signed an executive order transferring the power to approve reclamation projects to the Office of the President. The PRA was previously under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board had the power to approve reclamation projects.

“That is why ’yung Reclamation Authority kinuha ko. I got it back because I heard that everybody was lobbying (for approval of their projects)… Sabi ko, no (I told them, no),” Mr. Duterte said on Saturday.

Property developers are looking to capitalize on the booming real estate market by reclaiming land along Manila Bay. There are around 25 proposed projects to reclaim 10,000 hectares from Navotas City to Cavite.

Last December, PRA General Manager Joselito Gonzales said four projects have been given the green light — the Navotas City Coastal Bay Reclamation Project, Pasay 360-hectare Reclamation Project, Pasay 265-hectare Reclamation Project, Horizon Manila 418-hectare Reclamation Project.

SM Prime Holdings last December received the official notice from the Pasay City government to proceed with its 360-hectare reclamation project within the latter’s municipal waters. The said project will be connected to the Mall of Asia Complex, which is also a joint reclamation-land project by both parties.

On the other hand, the other 265-hectare reclamation project in Pasay City is being pursued by the LGU and the Pasay Harbour Center Consortium.

The Navotas Coastal Bay Reclamation Project is being undertaken by the Navotas LGU and Argonbay Construction Company, Inc.

The Horizon Manila project is being developed by the Manila LGU and Jbros Construction Corp. — GMC