The Manila Bay reclamation projects which President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. ordered suspended are expected to generate over P24 trillion in investments, the Philippine Reclamation Authority has said.

In a presentation before the House Committee on Ways and Means on Monday, PRA Assistant General Manager Joseph John Literal said the direct investments on the vertical development side is expected to reach P23 trillion.

Vertical development is expected to generate another P1.95 trillion for horizontal development.

“P24 trillion, Sayang ito. Payagan na lang natin, basta tapusin nila in five years. We can align this to socialized housing,” Salceda said.

(It would be such a waste to do nothing on that P24 trillion. We should allow this to proceed, as long as they finish the project within five years.)

“A suspension is not tantamount to the abandonment of the projects and may be an opportunity for us to rethink the costs and benefits of reclamation projects,” he added.

The suspension of the Manila Bay reclamation projects was due to the cumulative impact assessment that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had been conducting.

The suspension came about after sectors raised concern of the Manila Bay reclamation projects possibly causing massive floods and displacement of residents in coastal communities.

The US Embassy in Manila also cited the involvement of a Chinese contractor in the project which was previously flagged by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank for allegedly engaging in fraudulent business practices.

Salceda then asked PRA on the legal basis of the cumulative impact assessment.

Literal said the cumulative impact assessment was already a part of the Manila Bay Sustainable Development Master Plan.

“It was done in 2018 to 2021,” Literal said.

Literal said that prior to the suspension, the construction for at least six Manila Bay reclamation projects have been started namely:

  • the 360 hectare SM Prime Pasay City Reclamation and Development Project
  • the 265 hectare  Pasay Harbor City Reclamation Project by Davao-based businessman Carlos “Charlie” Gonzalez and his Davao- based triple A contractor Ulticon Builders
  • the 318 hectare Waterfront Manila Premier Development Inc. Reclamation Project
  • the 90 hectare Bacoor Reclamation Project
  • the 100 hectare Bacoor Reclamation Project
  • 230 hectare Bacoor Reclamation Project

Salceda said that such revelation by Literal made the suspension baffling.

“If impact assessment has been done before the projects started, why did we suspend them then?” Salceda said.

“Bring in mind that these [companies involved in the reclamation] are the businesses who are of good standing to provide jobs,” he added.

The PRA fees for horizontal development, on the other hand, is projected to reach P19 billion, with real property taxes for horizontal development pegged to reach P4.8 million per hectare a year.

For the vertical development, PRA estimates the real property taxes to be collected at P140 million per hectare a year.

The PRA said it did not have estimates on the number of jobs which may be created and the other forward and backward linkages that the Manila Bay reclamation projects may lead to. —NB, GMA Integrated News