MANILA – A party-list lawmaker is seeking an investigation into the status of the Manila Bay reclamation projects and its consequential effects on national security and the environment.
ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Erwin Tulfo filed House Resolution 1171 on Tuesday, directing the House Committee on National Defense and Security and the House Committee on Ecology to look into the ongoing and proposed reclamation projects within Manila Bay, which could have potential implications on the country’s national security.
Tulfo noted that the reclamation projects may pose a danger to the Philippines’ security after the US government recently raised concerns that the reclamation projects have ties to the China Communications Construction Co. (CCCC), which was cited by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank for engaging in fraudulent business practices.
“I have read in several news reports that one of the companies involved in the reclamation project in Manila Bay right now is a construction firm from Mainland China, the China Construction Company. And this same construction company, the news reports added, was also involved in the construction of an airbase and naval base of China in the West Philippine Sea,” Tulfo said.
“Ang tanong ko po, may ahensya ba tayo na chine-check ang mga barko na nakaparada diyan sa Manila Bay ngayon na galing sa ibang bansa kung ito ba ay lehitimong dredging vessel o baka naman mga militia vessels na galing sa West Philippine Sea? (My question is, is there any agency that checks whether the foreign ships docked in Manila Bay are legitimate dredging vessels or militia vessels from the West Philippine Sea?)” he added.
Tulfo said that while the ongoing land reclamation may offer potential economic benefits and development opportunities, it also raises concerns about its environmental impact, such as the alteration of coastal processes and the possible effects on water quality and marine biodiversity.
Tulfo, however, clarified that he is not against any development or growth in the country, especially if it is beneficial to the people.
“However, if that development will kill the livelihood of people living in that area, or shuts down business, or disturbs the environment, or even violates certain local government codes, will it still be beneficial for the people?” Tulfo said.
He cited the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusan ng Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA), a national association of fisherfolk, stating that thousands of fishermen from the National Capital Region (NCR) and in nearby regions will be displaced because of the said project.
Tulfo echoed the sentiments of Speaker Martin Romualdez, who also wants to ensure the national security, transparency, environmental sustainability and the best interest of the public regarding the Manila Bay reclamation projects.
“I was informed by the Speaker that he was concerned after hearing several news reports regarding national security issue in the reclamation area as he remained committed to safeguarding our nation’s security and to uphold our territorial integrity and fostering peaceful cooperation in the region,” Tulfo said.
Other authors of the resolution are ACT-CIS party-list Representatives Edvic Yap and Jocelyn Tulfo.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier said the government will undertake a “cumulative impact assessment” on the ongoing Manila Bay reclamation projects as the United States Embassy in Manila expressed concerns about its potential effects on the environment.
Daza said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is also looking into the compliance of the projects with the conditions of their permits, as well as with existing environmental laws and regulations.
CCCC’s subsidiary China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd. is currently undertaking the reclamation development project at Manila Bay, about five kilometers from downtown Manila and Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
The project includes backfilling to form three artificial islands and related supporting revetment structures and foundation treatment, according to CCCC website. (PNA)