Duterte says he nixed Manila Bay reclamation applications due to 'corruption'

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he ordered a stop to the processing of applications for reclamation projects in Manila Bay due to reports of corruption.

"You know, itong sa (this) Manila Bay na reclamation, thousands have applied but because of the corruption that I've heard early last year, there's no more processing of papers," he said in a speech at the Philippine National Police headquarters in Quezon City on Friday, June 25.

"Hininto ko (I stopped it) and it has caused the big companies lots of money," he added.

Duterte did not elaborate on specific companies or local government units applied to pursue reclamation in the famous Manila landmark. But he implied that some entities were bribing government officials.

"I told you, do not give money to the people in government. If I know you have given even a single centavo, I will throw your application to the waste basket and I have done that and I am doing that every day," he said.

Reasons for opposing reclamation

In February 2020, he already said he would not approve any new reclamation projects, especially those proposed by the private sector. He advised entities who embark on such plans to wait until the next administration.

But the reason he cited back then were concerns on the environmental impact of reclamation projects on Manila.

In February 2019, Duterte placed the power to approve reclamation projects under his office by transferring these powers to the Philippine Reclamation Authority then putting the PRA under the Office of the President.

Before then, the power to approve reclamation projects was with the National Economic and Development Authority.

In 2019, four reclamation projects were given notices to proceed, projects of local governments like Pasay and Navotas with companies like SM Prime Holdings.

In March this year, the Philippine Competition Commission approved the joint venture between the local government of Manila and Waterfront Manila Premier Development for a 318-hectare reclamation project in Manila Bay. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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