PRRD orders DENR to shun applications for reclamation activities

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

April 1, 2022, 8:47 am

<p><em>(File photo)</em></p>

(File photo)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he has directed acting Environment Secretary Jim Sampulna to halt the acceptance of applications for reclamation activities.

Duterte gave the directive, as he acknowledged that proposals to conduct massive land reclamation are nothing but a breeding ground for corruption.

“Tanang application karon sa reclamation — tanan and it could include Cebu and Mindanao — giingnan nako si Acting Secretary na iundang tanan (All the applications right now for reclamation — all and it could include Cebu and Mindanao — I told the Acting Secretary to stop all of it),” he said in a speech delivered in Lapu-Lapu City.

This, as Duterte bared that he had dismissed at least six Cabinet members because of their supposed involvement in questionable reclamation deals in Manila Bay.

Duterte refused to name the fired Cabinet officials. He also did not elaborate on the supposed shady reclamation proposals.

"Di ko kuan og kanang magpa-announce sa media pero about, in the process, five Cabinet members ang akong, o six, akong napalagpot kay because of corruption (I’m not fond of announcing to the media but about, in the process, I’ve fired five or six Cabinet members because of corruption)," he said. "May dinismiss ako na Cabinet members and iyong ito ‘yung (I dismissed the Cabinet members and it has something to do with) reclamation projects in front of Manila."

Duterte reiterated that he could not support reclamation activities because they would benefit just the “big” companies.

“Pero ‘yung iba lalo na ‘yung — alam mo dito sa gobyerno na ito, ‘yung projects kagaya ng mga reclamation, ang mga bilyonaryo ra diha. Ang mga way kwarta o laway ray imong kapital, di gyud puwede na because it would end sa corruption kay basig gamay ra imong kapital unya musulod ka anang butanga, eventually imo nang ibaligya sa kaning mga negosyanteng dagko. So mao to giingnan nako, ‘Habulin mo,’ (You know in this government’s reclamation projects, only the billionaires venture into that. Those who don’t have money or those who only use their communication skills as capital could never work because it would end in corruption because you joined the business with just small capital, eventually, you will still sell it to the big corporations. So, I said, ‘Pursue them’),” he said.

Duterte said he has no plans to approve any big-ticket projects, including the reclamation proposals, in his remaining months in office.

He said he would let his successor decide on the proposed reclamation activities.

“So daghan tong gusto mugukod, di na ko, di nako maka-pirma’g appointment, di na pud ko muhatag og dako na kwarta, project, parehas ani karong… And then ‘yung discretion sa itong magbigay sa mga reclamation areas sa Manila. It's either akong giingon punggan nako, ihatag ko nalang sa sunod nga mudala (A lot of people want to see me. But I won’t anymore, I won’t sign appointments, neither will I approve huge amounts of money for projects just like… And then the discretion to allow reclamation in Manila, I said it’s either I’ll suspend it for the meantime and just leave it to the next administration),” Duterte said.

He, however, still raised the possibility that acceptable reclamation proposals might be approved at the “last minute.”

“It’s either we give it basig last minute basta tinarong lang and the legal requirements are complied, I might just you know — pero sila, dili ako. You review everything and if you think it’s proper and legal, buhii nalang (It’s either we give it to them last minute for as long as it’s honest and the legal requirements are complied with, I might just you know — but they’ll do it, not me. You review everything and if you think it’s proper and legal, give it to them,” Duterte said. (PNA)