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Reclamation projects in Manila Bay

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As various government agencies and volunteers map out plans to make successful the massive cleanup and rehabilitation of the Manila Bay as mandated by a 2008 Supreme Court decision and pressed lately by President Rodrigo Duterte following the success of a similar initiative in Boracay, public attention focus on the proposed reclamation projects in Manila, Pasay, Paranaque, Navotas and other areas in the Manila Bay region covering thousands of hectares.


As expected, the proponents of the reclamation projects like the SM group trumpet that their projects would boost business in the region and create thousands of jobs for Filipinos. Sadly, while the projects are supposed to be projects of the government and that the reclaimed land are government properties, there have been no declared plan incorporated in the vision of both the giant corporations and government agencies for government centers and facilities in those areas. Simply, the proponents are motivated mainly by profit and not by a mission to help the government and the government agencies involved in the end are just becoming tools to the greedy expansionist tycoons of Chinese descent.


The situation today is very much different when then President Ferdinand Marcos started the reclamation of Manila Bay in the '70s. His vision was to make a better Manila, thus portions of the reclaimed land became the site for the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Folk Arts Theater, and the Film Arts Center, among others. What followed after the Marcos-approved reclamation were all private businesses of the country's moguls and taipans. 


Possibly to review and correct the "errors" of government planners involved in the reclamation projects, Mr. Duterte, throught Executive Order No. 74, again transferred the Philippine Reclamation Authority to the Office of the President, explaining in his order that henceforth all reclamation project proposals will have to be studied and pass on by his office. Various concerned groups and fishermen, however, see the Duterte move as a way to speed up the reclamation projects and not to pass them on for thorough scrutiny amidst fears on adverse ecological effects, including floodings and pollution.


There is a glimmer of hope though that Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Ano, who has jurisdiction over the cities, towns and provinces composing the Manila Bay region and environs, has come out with the statement, through Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya, that will be no reclamation projects as part of the Manila Bay rehabilitation program. Secretary Ano and the agencies concerned should issue a written order stopping the pending reclamation projects while it endeavors to undertake public hearings and consultations on the 43 pending reclamation proposals covering some 32,000 hectares.

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