Philippines suspends nearly 2 dozen Manila Bay reclamation projects

August 11, 2023 - 9:05 AM
Manila Bay reclamation
Reclamation projects in Manila Bay in this photo shared by Sen. JV Ejercito on his Twitter account on Feb. 16, 2023 (jvejercito/Twitter)

 The Philippine government has suspended all 22 reclamation projects in Manila Bay to assess their environmental and social impacts and compliance with regulations, Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga said on Thursday.

The move comes days after the United States expressed concern over the involvement of a Chinese state-owned firm, which it blacklisted for its role in constructing and militarising artificial South China sea islands, in the Philippine reclamation projects.

Washington has also warned of the “potential negative long-term and irreversible impacts” of the reclamation activities on the environment.

Yulo-Loyzaga told a news briefing that operators of the reclamation activities involving hundreds of hectares and potentially worth billions of pesos would be fully informed and treated fairly. She did not give a timeline for completing the review.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said earlier this week there were problems in the implementation of the projects, though he did not elaborate. He expressed concern about the possible clogging of rivers connected to the bay.

If there are violations, Yulo-Loyzaga said operators will be given a period within which to undertake corrective measures.

“If they do not comply, it’s possible for the ECCs (environmental clearance certificates) to be suspended,” she said.

The blacklisted company, China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC) 601800.SS, has yet to comment on the U.S. concern.

—Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by Alexandra Hudson