Gov’t allows Gatchalian firm to proceed with Manila Bay reclamation project

The Philippine Reclamation Authority has allowed a company controlled by the Gatchalian family, the Waterfront Manila Premier Development Inc., to defer payment of regulatory fees and start its proposed reclamation project in Manila Bay even with a pending case before the Makati Regional Trial Court.

The project involves reclaiming 318 hectares of land along Manila Bay for a P34-billion horizontal development.

In a letter to WMPDI president Kenneth Gatchalian on 18 August, PRA’s Reclamation and Regulation Office general manager, lawyer Joseph John Literal, said the board approved the 60 days extension for WMPDI to pay the second tranche payment of the initial regulatory fee and social environment fund until 18 October.

“Pursuant to Section 8 or PRA Administrative Order No. 2021-02 or the policy and guidelines of SEF, the effectivity of the Notice to Proceed, or in this case the Notice to Mobilize and Notice to Commence Actual Reclamation Works shall only commence upon PRA receipt of the full payment of the SEF and upon PRA confirmation of such receipt,” the letter read.

Liberal said PRA, a government agency, approved WMPDI’s request after the Makati Regional Trial Court issued a decision setting aside the 25 April order, given the absence of injunctive relief granted in Asian Seas Resources and Construction Development Corp.’s favor.

Last April, the Makati court declared null and void the contract to reclaim 318 hectares in Manila Bay for allegedly not undergoing a competitive bidding process and NEDA board evaluation and approval for encroaching in areas covered by another reclamation contract.

WMPDI was among the few private companies with reclamation proposals along the Manila Bay area.

During the term of former President Rodrigo Duterte, private reclamation projects in Manila Bay were banned. Only those related to government projects and previously approved projects were allowed to push through.

According to Oceana, disastrous dump-and-fill projects known as reclamation are inconsistent with the Expanded National Integrated Protected Area Systems Act, which seeks to strengthen protected areas to ensure their ecological integrity.

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