THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it is in talks to engage two scientific organizations to carry out a study on reclamation policy.

Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga said in a Senate briefing that it is firming up an agreement with scientists from the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute and the Manila Observatory.

“We are in the process of finalizing the memorandum of agreement between the different scientists who will be conducting the study for us,” she said.

The study will be “scenario-based,” she added, indicating that the study is intended to assess how reclamation will hold up under certain eventualities.

The study will be carried out in conjunction with an environmental compliance review “of all projects, whether ongoing or not yet started,” Ms. Yulo-Loyzaga said.

She said one of the considerations would be the cost of continuing projects weighed against the potential impact on marine resources.

“We do understand that there are social and economic benefits, for example, that may be weighed against the costs,” she added.

She said that the studies could take up to one year.

The Philippine Reclamation Authority said it has issued notices of suspension to all projects in Manila Bay and has confirmed that there are no ongoing projects.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. earlier froze all reclamation in Manila Bay, citing the need to reassesses their overall long-term impact on the environment.

There are currently 22 reclamation projects in the bay, which is enclosed by Metro Manila and the provinces of Bataan, Pampanga, Bulacan and Cavite.

Ms. Yulo-Loyzaga has said that the DENR is seeking to investigate the conditions behind the issuance of environmental compliance certificates and clearances to the projects. — Adrian H. Halili