Philippines government suspends Chinese contractor’s Manila Bay land reclamation work
By Neil Gerrard11 August 2023
The government of the Philippines has placed 22 land reclamation projects in Manila Bay under review, leading to their temporary suspension.
The move came after the US embassy in the country said it was concerned about the involvement of Chinese contractor China Communications (CCCC) and the environmental impact of the projects.
The US has previously criticised CCCC for its work in creating artificial islands in disputed parts of the South China Sea.
In a press briefing in Malacanang, the Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary Maria Antonio Yulo-Loyzaga said officials were looking into the compliances under which the Environmental Compliance Certificates and area clearances were issued for the projects.
Loyzaga said, “The declaration is really that all of these projects are suspended at this point. So, all are under review. We have to take our time, really beginning with those that are ongoing, because they are in fact, already impacting the areas. And then, we will graduate to those that are in fact, still not yet begun.”
“When the ECCs and the area clearances were issued, there were conditions attached to those ECCs and area clearances. So we’re looking now at the actual compliance to those conditions, and that is the difficult part of the work and it involves multiple agencies giving their no objection or objection to the different projects,” she added.
On Monday, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. went to Pampanga and Bulacan to personally see the flooding situation in these provinces.
He then announced that he ordered the suspension of all reclamation projects in Manila Bay except for one pending review.
Loyzaga said that as soon as a review of all the projects has been made, companies undertaking the projects will be given a period within which they may be able to correct whatever violations that will be cited.
She added that they will also be guided as to what can be done or not during that period, “and if they do not comply, it’s possible for, of course, the ECCs to be suspended.”
Loyzaga said that all Manila Bay reclamation projects were approved under the previous administration.
Explaining the decision, Loyzaga cited the possible long-term effects of reclamation work.
Those included damage to ecosystems which could affect the drainage of flood waters in an area where some heavily populated cities around the bay sit at zero elevation.