It seems proponents of reclamation projects are out to test President Rodrigo Duterte’s resolve a few weeks after saying he had put a stop to such projects because 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.
Apart from the 174 hectare reclamation project that threatens to destroy the Mindanao Sea, another reclamation project on Manila bay is being pursued with gusto by a mining company.
Sources say that Century Peak (Metals) Holdings Corp. (Century Peak) is ignoring Duterte’s seemingly hard no against reclamation in Manila bay.
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Century Peaks reclamation project will occupy 1,330 hectares of the bay, with 1,043 hectares on the Cavite side and 287 hectares on the side of Parañaque City.
The project will affect 178 local government units including Las Pinas, Paranaque, and Cavite.
The Pambansang Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA), a fisherfolk organization, says more than 700 families in Cavite will lose their homes and livelihood from fishing.
It was also claimed that Century Peak’s gargantuan reclamation project will destroy mangrove areas vital no only to the marine ecology in the area but also comprises one of the area’s main defenses against storm surges as well as flooding.
There are fears that it will block the Parañaque River, Las Piñas River, Zapote River at Molino River. With these natural drains blocked, there are concerns that the resulting floods will damage the homes of more than two million residents of Paranaque, Las Pinas at Bacoor cities.
According to records from the Philippine Stock Exchange, Century Peak’s chairman is Wilfredo Keng. It is the same company suspended by DENR Secretary Gina Lopez in 2016 because of alleged violations in connection with the Rapid City Nickel Project at Casiguran Nickel Project in the Dinagat Islands.
If Keng’s Century Peak manages to break ground for its reclamation project, the Duterte administration’s growing number of detractors as well as political opponents will pounce on this as another instance of flagrant corruption.
The administration is already reeling from corruption allegations in connection with the flagging of the Department of Health and OWWA by the Commission on Audit.