All reclamation projects in Manila Bay except one have been suspended, according to President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., who noted problems in their implementation.
"Nakasuspinde lahat... under review ang lahat ng reclamation. 'Yung isa lang ang natuloy dahil na-review na. Maraming problema, marami kaming nakitang hindi masyadong maganda ang patakbo," Marcos said in Bulacan on Monday.
(All are suspended. The reclamation projects are under review except one that has already been reviewed. We saw problems in the implementation.)
"But anyway, isa pang malaking problema na kailangan ayusin 'yan. Kasi kung matuloy lahat 'yan, maraming ilog mababara," he added.
(Anyway, we need to fix that because if the projects push through, a lot of rivers will be affected.)
Marcos did not specify which projects are suspended, but lamented that the sea along Roxas Boulevard could disappear due to the reclamation projects.
"'Yung Roxas Boulevard, mawawala 'yung dagat (The sea in Roxas Boulevard will be gone)," he said.
The President was in Bulacan to attend a situational briefing amid the heavy flooding experienced by the province resulting from the previous weeks' heavy rains. Local officials said reclamation projects could be among the reasons why the province was experiencing floods.
GMA News Online reached the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for further details on these suspended projects but the department has yet to respond as of posting time.
The DENR has been conducting cumulative impact assessments on the reclamation projects to demonstrate the effects of the projects to Manila Bay.
Meanwhile, at least three senators have welcomed Marcos’ decision, including Senate environment and natural resources committee chairperson Cynthia Villar who earlier warned that the reclamation projects in Manila Bay may cause six to eight-meter flooding in Las Piñas and other nearby areas.
“I am happy that [President] Marcos is suspending the reclamation in Manila Bay. This is good news to us who are afraid of ill effects of reclamation which will cause massive flooding in our cities,” Villar said.
Senator JV Ejercito said he is giving 100% support to Marcos' move.
Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros likewise welcomed Marcos’ decision and asked the Senate to conduct a hearing on her resolution that seeks to inquire on the “large-scale” land reclamation projects across the Philippines.
“Last year, I filed Proposed Senate Resolution 300 to conduct an inquiry into the reported large-scale land reclamation projects being undertaken on a nationwide scale in the Philippines, including these projects in Manila Bay. I hope the Senate hears this as soon as possible,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
She also warned against “questionable entities” involved in these reclamation projects.
“There are questionable entities involved in those projects, particularly the China state-owned China Communications Construction Co., which has historically destroyed our marine ecosystems in the West Philippine Sea. Dapat hindi na tayo nakikipagsapalaran sa mga kumpanya tulad ng CCCC,” she said.
In a Palace briefing earlier this month, DENR Secretary Antonia Yulo Loyzaga said the reclamation projects are necessary in improving the economy, but its effects to the ecology should be considered.
ACT-CIS party-list Representative Erwin Tulfo has filed a resolution seeking a probe on the status of the Manila Bay reclamation projects.
The US Embassy in Manila, which is situated by the Manila Bay, has also expressed concern over the reclamation projects' ties with China Communications Construction Co., a company that was cited by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank for allegedly engaging in fraudulent business practices. —Anna Felicia Bajo with Hana Bordey/KBK, GMA Integrated News