land reclamation in the Philippines

Reclamation projects impede gov’t duty to protect Manila Bay – Loyzaga

Iya Gozum

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Reclamation projects impede gov’t duty to protect Manila Bay – Loyzaga

Workers continue to pour land on an ongoing reclamation project in Manila Bay on February 28, 2023.

Rappler

Environment Secretary Toni Yulo-Loyzaga says government can't preserve Manila Bay if new structures such as reclamation projects are put up in the area

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Toni Yulo-Loyzaga said on Friday, August 4, that reclamation projects in Manila Bay hamper the government’s duty to protect the area as stated in the Supreme Court’s mandamus ruling.

The high court issued a writ of continuing mandamus in 2008 ordering multiple government agencies to preserve Manila Bay and make it suitable for “swimming, skin-diving, and other forms of contact recreation.”

“That mandamus needs to be performed by 13 agencies,” said Loyzaga. “Hindi ito ma-pe-perform kung may mga introduction of new structures sa Bay.” (This cannot be performed if new structures are introduced in Manila Bay.)

At present, the environment department is conducting a cumulative impact assessment of the reclamation projects in Manila Bay.

“The concern really is to see whether we could basically maybe halt or minimize activities until we finish the cumulative impact assessment,” said Loyzaga in a mix of Filipino and English.

There is no deadline yet when the DENR, and the Filipino scientists they employed for the initiative, will finish the assessment.

According to Loyzaga, the DENR is set to release a recommendation soon about the reclamation projects that are in conflict with the mandamus ruling.

Loyzaga said the agency is careful with its recommendation to ensure that it “stays within the law,” and considers “overlapping legislation, policy directions from past administrations.”

Aside from the reclamation projects being contrary to the high court’s ruling, there is also concern over the parameters of these structures. “May problema po talaga in terms of the physical parameters na ginagamit dati,” Loyzaga said. “May mga reclamation na patong-patong, may nag-o-overlap.”

(There are problems with the physical parameters used before. There are reclamations projects that overlap.)

Recently, the US embassy expressed its concern over a China-owned company’s reclamation project. Loyzaga said she got wind of this concern during a visit of US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson. According to Loyzaga, the US embassy, located in Manila Bay, cited flood risk as their primary concern. – Rappler.com

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Iya Gozum

Iya Gozum covers the environment, agriculture, and science beats for Rappler.