Residents of Baseco Compound in Manila gathered on the morning of March 16 to form the Baseco People’s Agenda led by Baseco People’s Alliance and Manila Urban Poor Network. The groups’ leaders believe that jobs, money and developments would not be the result of reclamation in their area as the Malacañang Palace claimed, but instead would immediately bring eviction and displacement to the urban poor residents of Baseco.
The groups called for the junking of the reclamation project and for stopping the demolition of the homes of the poor in the city of Manila.
The Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) is processing a total of 22 reclamation projects are planned along Manila Bay that the agency said in a House of Representatives’ Metro Manila development committee hearing will affect and likely pollute Manila Bay. Once approved, the projects would cover 22,000 ha or about 11 percent of the bay’s 1,994-square-kilometer area.
Three of these projects have been approved in principle by the PRA—the 360-ha Pasay reclamation project, the 140-ha Solar City project, and the Navotas Boulevard Business Park. Around 547 hectares of Manila Bay will be reclaimed for ports expansion and mixed-use projects.
Communities in Manila would be affected by the 50-ha. expansion project of Manila Harbour Center by the R-II Builders, Inc., the 50-ha. project of Baseco Rehabilitation and Dev’t., Inc. (Bradi), the 40-has. PRA reclamation project, and the biggest 407-ha. City of Pearl project, proposed by a Chinese firm UAA Kinming Dev’t. Corp. These big-ticket projects were already approved by the local government of Manila and would affect residents of Baseco, Parola, Tondo Foreshoreland and Malate.
Manila Urban Poor Network estimated at 100,000 the number of residents in Manila who will be affected by the reclamation project. Baseco alone has a population of 59,847 tallied in the Philippine Census in 2015.
Baseco is Barangay 649 Zone 68 of the City of Manila. It is a reclaimed section of the Port Area of Manila. It is under the jurisdiction of the Philippines Ports Authority. It has 56 hectares, as indicated in the Ordinance No. 7931, which is a property of the National Government.
Opposition to reclamation
In the meeting, former Anakpawis Representative Rafael ‘Ka Paeng’ Mariano shared the resolution and bill that Anakpawis and the Makabayan bloc filed the Lower House of Congress asking for “genuine rehabilitation” of Manila Bay.
The Makabayan bloc on January 29 filed House Resolution 2452, urging the government to postpone the rehabilitation of the polluted Manila Bay over concerns in how the government plans to resettle an estimated 300,000 informal settlers until an assessment on the socio-economic impact on poor sectors and a genuine and democratic masterplan has been carried out.
Makabayan also labeled the Manila Bay Rehabilitation program as fake because reclamation projects or business deals that are destructive to the said bay are being approved by various government units such as:
- the 148-hectare joint-venture “Solar City” reclamation project of Tieng family’s Manila Goldcoast Development Corp. and local government unit of the city of Manila;
- the 360-hectare joint-venture “SM project” reclamation of SM Prime Holdings, Inc. and local government unit of Pasay City;
- and the 265-hectare joint-venture “Pasay Harbor City” of a consortium involving Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy and the local government of Pasay City
On February 7, Anakpawis and Makabayan lawmakers filed House Bill No. 9067, declaring Manila Bay as Reclamation-Free Zone. The move was pushed to cater the broader demand for the urgent rehabilitation of Manila Bay, and emphasized on declaring the bay as “reclamation-free.” The progressive lawmakers also wanted to reiterate that rehabilitation of Manila Bay does not equate to reclamation and called for “genuine rehabilitation” of the historic waters.
The lawmakers accused Malacañang Palace of using rehabilitation as a vehicle for reclamation. Aside from environmental damages, the reclamation projects are big profit infrastructure projects for big private corporations that would also build and serve businesses at the expense of the dislocation of 1 to 1.5 million Filipinos across all Manila Bay reclamation projects.
The local groups in Manila also called for the junking of Manila City Ordinance Number 8119 that allowed the conversion of residential use lands to commercial/industrial use and paved the way for big projects such as the Manila Bay reclamation.
President has last say on reclamation
On January 15, 2019, Department of Interior and Local Government Eduardo Año announced that around 220,000 informal settler families will be relocated to Central Luzon and Calabarzon regions.
On February 4, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 74 (EO 74) delegating the authority to approve reclamation projects to the PRA. He also placed the agency under the Office of the President, instead of the DENR.
“It has been shed to light, that the Duterte government has been using the Manila Bay rehabilitation program as a trojan horse for reclamation projects, especially when the president took over authority of the PRA, along with approval of such projects via the EO 74,” Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao said of the PRA’s transfer to the Office of the President.
He said that this move stinks of crony capitalism or graft, especially when his allies, such as businessman Dennis Uy is involved, particularly on the 265-has. Pasay Harbour City consortium project and Chinese firms on the City of Pearl project.
The 22 reclamation projects being processed by the PRA included the following:
- 944 hectares in Bacoor, Cavite, by Frabelle Fishing Corp and Aboitiz;
- 1,332 has. in Cavite, Century Peak Corp.;
- 40 has. in Baseco, Manila, by PRA UAA Kinning Group Development Corp.;
- 200 has., Baseco Rehabilitation and Development Inc (BRADI);
- 407 has., Manila, Kinning Group Development Corp.;
- 50 has., Manila North Harbor expansion project, R-II Builders;
- 419 has., Manila, Jbros Construction Corp.;
- 635 has. in Las Pińas and Parańaque cities, Altech Construction Inc.;
- 7 has. in Cavite, Coastal Road Corp.;
- 318 has., Waterfront Manila Premiere Corp.;
- 140 has., Asian Seas Resources and Relty Corp.;
- 148 has., Manila Goldcoast Development Corp.;
- 577 and 73 has. in Navotas, Argonbay Construction Company Inc.;
- 300 has. in Pasay City, SM Prime Holdings Inc.;
- 265 has., Pasay City, Harbour Center Consortium., 265 hectares
- 360 has., SM Prime Holdings Inc.;
- 30 has., Philippine Navy;
- 1,900 has., Cavite provincial gov’t.;
- 2,500 has., Bulacan, the P735.6 billion Aerotropolis project.
The PRA has listed 43 reclamation projects in Manila Bay, included in its National Reclamation Plan. There are 120 reclamation projects in the country, the PRA said.