THE HOUSE committee on Metro Manila Development on Monday raised concerns about the Manila Bay cleanup, questioning plans for further reclamation.
“There are many possibly destructive effects of the planned reclamation,” Buhay Party-list Rep. Jose L. Atienza, Jr. told the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) during the committee meeting on the status of the Manila Bay rehabilitation.
Mr. Atienza, a former Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), cited as an example reclamation projects affecting Navotas City.
“Before and after the Dagat-Dagatan area was reclaimed, Navotas never flooded, but now Navotas always experiences flooding,” he said.
In response, the PRA argued it ensures the Authority screens reclamation projects and flags questionable plans that may have a negative impact on the environment.
“We also have our own environment department. We attend hearings, we even sit in the review committee of DENR to carefully scrutinize the environmental impacts as presented in the environmental impact study of each particular reclamation proponent,” PRA Assistant General Manager for Land Development, Construction and Technical Services Joselito D. Gonzales told the panel.
“We study and analyze all scientific data; we study and analyze all modellings, storm surges, liquifaction, land subsidence, all negative issues. If by any chance we see there is something wrong, or something not in accordance with internal standards or scientific data, by all means, we have the power to reject or not issue a notice to proceed,” he said.
The PRA reported that there are 22 pending reclamation projects in Manila Bay, at varying stages of approval, covering about 20,000 hectares.
The PRA said reclamation projects help protect coastlines and generate employment.
“In Pasay City, Solaire employs 5,500 people, while City of Dreams employs 4,500 people, while Okada Manila employs nearly 8,000. And that’s just from three casino-resorts,” PRA Assistant Manager for Reclamation and Regulation Joselito John M. Literal said in the same hearing.
“Another benefit of reclamation is coastal defense, if the project is well-designed, which we’re making sure of,” he added.
Marikina-1st District Rep. Bayani F. Fernando proposed that the reclaimed area be zoned for industrial use, instead of residential or commercial space.
“From what I’ve seen in other countries, they reclaim the sea more for industrial use, not for residential,” Mr. Bayani, who also chairs the Committee on public works and highways, said. “They reclaim areas mostly for industrial to take advantage of the sea for transport.” — Charmaine A. Tadalan