Manila Bay reclamation project faces continued opposition

Posted at 01/06/13 4:02 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Multisectoral group SOS Manila Bay Coalition continues to oppose the proposed development of the Manila Bay by real estate developer Manila Goldcoast Development Corp.

The proposed development for a mixed residential-commercial development has a provision for the addition of another 144 hectares to the complex.

In a press conference at the Manila Yacht Club on Saturday, members of the coalition said the project would worsen the flooding and cause “massive” dislocation of informal settlers in the area.

The coalition argues that the project cannot be supported by the existing infrastructure and extreme pressure would be placed on an already inadequate water and power supply. The group said the development would also worsen the traffic and sanitation problems in the city.

The coalition is composed of representatives from environment groups, the Catholic church, urban poor, tourism, businesses, and urban planners.

World Wildlife Fund-Philippines (WWF) president Lory Tan said the developer consortium did not conduct a thorough study on the social and economic impact of the project to its environs.

Tan describes the planned reclamation project as “poorly planned” because it would worsen the traffic situation and aggravate the flooding situation in Manila.

“There needs to be a multisectoral study done on this. This must be studied very carefully,” he said.

The resurrected project dates back to 1991 when the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), then known as the Public Estates Authority (PEA), issued to Elco Development & Construction Corp. (EDCC) – the parent company of real estate developer Manila Goldcoast Development Corp., a notice of award for the reclamation of the south parcel of the reclamation project.

The coalition then opposed the project, leading the City of Manila to enact city ordinance no. 7777 prohibiting any form of reclamation in between the US embassy and the CCP. The ordinance took effect in 1993.

In 2011, however, the Manila City local government enacted City Ordinance No. 8233 authorizing Mayor Alfredo Lim to file an application with PRA for the reclamation of certain portions of Manila Bay.

In April 2012, a consortium agreement was signed between the City of Manila and Goldcoast to develop a portion of the bay.

Under the consortium agreement, Goldcoast would provide the funds for the reclamation and development of the project while the city agreed to provide the right of way and assistance in the import and export of tools and labor.

“So after 21 years, we are here again,” said Magsaysay Lines president Doris Magsaysay-Ho. “When a city plans, there has to be inclusiveness.”

She noted that the development would also disturb the vital anchorage berths in the bay.

In terms of the sharing of proceeds, the consortium agreement stipulates a sharing scheme of 70-30 in favor of Goldcoast.

“And this is unfair for the government because it is a state property,” said environmental lawyer Galahad Pe Benito “We challenge Goldcoast to show us an impact study of the project.”

Pe Benito said that as of this time, the PRA still has to issue a Notice to Proceed to Goldcoast to enable it to start the project. To get the signal to proceed, it must first be issued an environment compliance certificate (ECC) by the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Envrionment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Pe Benito said the coalition would explore legal means to stop the reclamation project by filing a petition before the City of Manila.

“Hopefully, they will review the ordinance,” said Pe Benito.