Court nullifies Waterfront’s Manila Bay reclamation

A Makati City Regional Trial Court nullified the P34.37-billion reclamation joint venture between Waterfront Manila Premier Corp. of businessman William Gatchalian, the city government of Manila, and the Philippine Reclamation Authority.

The court voided the contract to reclaim 318 hectares in Manila Bay for allegedly not undergoing a competitive bidding process and National Economic and Development Authority board evaluation and approval and for encroaching in areas covered by another reclamation contract.

Through the property unit Philippine Estates Corp., Gatchalian teamed up with Chinese companies China First Highway Corp., China Development Bank, and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China to undertake the reclamation project.

In a 225-page decision, Makati RTC Branch 139 presiding judge Benjamin Pozon granted the petition for certiorari and prohibition filed by the Asean Seas Resources & Construction Development Corporation or Asserco, which sought the nullification of the reclamation project for infringing on its contract awarded by PRA predecessor Public Estates Authority in 1991.

Asserco said its right to reclaim the area is still protected by the PEA’s notice of award dated 21 March 1991.

“Wherefore, in the light of the foregoing, the petition for certiorari and prohibition of petitioner Asean Seas Resources & Construction Development Corp., formerly Asian Seas Resources & Realty Corporation, filed against respondents Philippine Reclamation Authority, formerly Public Estates Authority, Waterfront Manila Premier Development Corporation (Waterfront Manila), and the City of Manila, is hereby granted finding the same meritorious,” the court said.

In the dispositive part of the ruling issued on 25 April 2022, the court declared void PRA Board Resolution 5036 dated 16 October 2019, for violation of the petitioner’s right to administrative due process and grave abuse of discretion on the part of respondent PRA.

It also asked the PRA and the City of Manila to cease and desist from acting on any application submitted by any groups taking on any action that is detrimental to ASSERCO, which received a notice of award from PEA on 21 March 1991, to reclaim 140 hectares in Manila Bay.

The court also declared void the joint venture agreement, the memorandum of understanding, and the memorandum of agreement among the PRA, the City of Manila, and Waterfront Manila for “being violative of EO 146, EO 543, as well as other related Executive Orders because the City of Manila and Waterfront failed to secure the required NEDA Board approval and because the Manila Waterfront City Reclamation Project did not undergo public bidding.”

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