In a recent session of the Senate Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources, and Climate Change, Senator Cynthia Villar expressed her concerns regarding the presence of dredging ships in Manila Bay, located adjacent to reclaimed lands.
During the hearing, Atty. Joseph Literal, Assistant General Manager of the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), shed light on the continued presence of these dredging ships. He explained that contractors are bound by contractual obligations to manage and maintain the reclaimed lands, even in light of the suspension order issued by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in August.
Senator Koko Pimentel joined in agreement with Literal’s explanation and called upon Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Maria Antonia Toni Yulo-Loyzaga to expedite the environmental compliance reviews. The objective is to facilitate the resumption of reclamation projects, allowing for the further development of already reclaimed lands.
Concerning the timeline for resolution, Senator Villar inquired, and Yulo-Loyzaga clarified that, in accordance with President Marcos’ directives, the DENR and the PRA should submit progress reports on firms’ compliance with their Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECC).
Yulo emphasized that the President’s instructions entail a thorough and meticulous review of reclamation works to ensure strict adherence to environmental laws. She provided assurance to the senators that the DENR would strictly adhere to the law and enable compliant firms to resume their operations.
In addition, Atty. Literal from the PRA spotlighted flooding studies that offered insights into recent reclamation works in Manila Bay. These projects, classified as island reclamations, were found to pose no flooding risks, in contrast to previous reclamation projects near the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Literal pointed to the Mall of Asia complex as a prime example. It has served as a natural anti-flooding barrier since its opening in 2006, effectively preventing the inundation of large parts of Pasay City during heavy rainfall.