Manila Bay reclamation projects thumbed down anew by Duterte, groups air doubts

CAMP CRAME, Quezon City – President Rodrigo Duterte again thumbed down the proposals of private companies to conduct massive land reclamation activities in Manila Bay because of corruption issues.

Duterte’s pronouncement immediately earned suspicions of environment groups and fisherfolk as they aired hopes that the Chief Executive is serious this time.

In a speech delivered at Camp Crame in Quezon City, Duterte said the processing of thousands of applications for reclamation projects in Manila Bay was stopped due to corruption.

Duterte actually reiterated his stand against what he said as “mind boggling” reclamation projects which he made public in 2019 and early 2020.

“You know, itong sa Manila Bay na reclamation (the planned reclamation in Manila Bay), thousands have applied. But because of the corruption that I’ve heard early last year, there’s no more processing of papers. Hininto ko (I stopped it),” he said.

Duterte did not specify the companies embroiled in corrupt activities, but hinted they earned “lots of money” in the reclamation proposals.

He said he would not allow firms to bribe government officials in exchange for preferential treatment.

“It has caused the big companies lots of money just for delayed projects,” he said. “I told you, do not give money to the people in government. If I know that you have given even a single centavo, I will throw your application to the wastebasket. And I have done that and I am doing it everyday para talagang magtino ito (so this government will be free of corruption).”

In February 2020, Duterte said he may only consider government-related reclamation projects at Manila Bay. He added the private sector can wait for his successor to pitch their proposed reclamation activities.

Nearly 10,000 hectares of Manila Bay from Navotas City to Cavite were supposed to be included in 25 reclamation projects.

In December 2019, Philippine Reclamation Authority General Manager Joselito Gonzales said at least four reclamation projects have been approved — Navotas City Coastal Bay Reclamation Project, Pasay 360-Hectare Reclamation Project, Pasay 265-Hectare Reclamation Project, and the Horizon Manila 418-Hectare Reclamation Project.The projects must still undergo value engineer approval before they begin.

In February 2019, Duterte placed the power to approve reclamation projects