Atienza castigates PRA over 22 Manila Bay reclamation projects

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Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza on Monday scolded officials of the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) for its “failure to effectively regulate” numerous reclamation projects all over the country, including 22 pending applications around Manila Bay.

“How many reclamation projects in the Manila Bay area are in the pipeline? How many reclamation projects in the whole country? What is the total area of all of these projects? Would these reclamation projects have adverse effects on the environment?” he asked PRA’s assistant general manager for reclamation and regulation Joseph Literal during the hearing of the committee on Metro Manila development.

The former Manila mayor said he was extremely disappointed with the PRA official’s replies, which “showed the agency’s prevailing policy of approving all applications for reclamation projects without considering the serious environmental impact.”

“You have just admitted that in the Manila Bay area alone, there are 22 reclamation projects poised to commence, and over 100 more in different parts of the country,” he told Literal.

“You are aware that there would indeed be effects on the environment, and yet you would still let these projects proceed simply because the developers were instituting so-called systems to mitigate these effects?” he said.

“If all these projects are allowed to proceed, the effects would be catastrophic for all of us. There seems to be a reclamation craze sweeping across the country and you just keep approving each one of them!” Atienza said.

“Now that President Duterte has transferred the PRA under the Office of the President, malalaman na ngayon ng Presidente ang ginagawa ng mga tao sa ahensiyang ito,” a visibly angry Atienza added.

Atienza also assailed the PRA’s argument that reclamation projects such as Pasay’s Entertainment City, would generate thousands of jobs.

“Claiming that reclamation projects will help provide thousands of jobs is the weakest argument that I ever heard of,” he said.

“Casinos can be built even in areas that are not reclaimed and these would still provide employment. We have been attending other public hearings on reclamation projects. I have witnessed how these consultations turned out to be mere sales promotion efforts to explain the benefits of the projects without even listening to the opinions of environmental experts,” Atienza said.