THE rehabilitation of Manila Bay will contribute to the country's economic development, Malacañang said on Thursday, January 31.
Speaking to Palace reporters, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the massive clean-up of Manila Bay, which might pave the way for reclamation projects, would benefit the government.
"When you clean up Manila Bay, certainly all of us will benefit," Panelo said.
"Now with respect to the reclamation, even the government will benefit from that because we get, if I understand correctly, it's 63-35 [sharing]. Sixty-five ang atin doon. Ang laki (We'll get 65 percent of it. It's a huge sum)," he added.
The government is scheduled to start the rehabilitation of polluted Manila Bay, plagued with waste problems, on January 27.
The seven Makabayan lawmakers on Tuesday, January 29, filed House Resolution 2452, urging the government to postpone the massive clean-up of Manila Bay over concerns about "seemingly hidden projects" in the rehabilitation efforts.
The progressive Makabayan bloc said the rehabilitation program could be a "prelude to 43 reclamation projects, covering more than 32,000 hectares in the bay under the Build, Build, Build program."
The Leftist lawmakers clarified that they "fully support" the rehabilitation, but stressed that it should not be used as a "disguise" for the reclamation plan for the Manila Bay to form part of the Duterte government's infrastructure push.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), however, denied the Makabayan bloc's claim, noting that Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año is "personally opposed" to reclamation projects.
Contrary to the DENR's statement, Panelo was not discounting possibility that there will be reclamation in the course of rehabilitation.
"That will generate income to the government because of the sharing. And that will generate jobs because they will be establishing structures there, establishing companies. Eh 'di syempre, may mga workers (Of course, there will be new workers)," he said.
Manila Bay's rehabilitation was set following Duterte's order to Año and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to begin the clean-up.
Amid his directive to rehabilitate Manila Bay, Duterte had also warned to halt the operations of business firms in the vicinity found to be violating environmental regulations.
Apart from concerns over supposed reclamation projects, the Makabayan bloc also raised worry over informal settlers who will be affected by the rehabilitation.
Panelo said the government would look for ways to help informal settlers living around Manila Bay.
He also expressed confidence that companies that will be part of the reclamation projects would also help in the transfer of slum dwellers.
"Then we will have to find a place for resettlement. And also, syempre, 'yung mga involved sa reclamation, they have to contribute to the solution dahil hindi naman matutuloy 'yun kung nandoon sila," he said.
(Then we will have to find a place for resettlement. And also, those involved in the reclamation, they have to contribute to the solution because it cannot start if the informal settlers are there.)
"'Pag may problema, 'yung mga may-ari ng lupa, they do not rely on the government anymore. They offer to resettle them kasi mas profitable sa kanila. Kaysa hindi umalis doon, mag-dedemanda pa nang matagalan. Meanwhile, 'yung mga projects nila, naka-tengga," Panelo added.
(If there's a problem, the land owner, they do not rely on the government anymore. They offer to resettle them because it's profitable for them. If they do not leave there, you have to file a case and it will take a long time. Meanwhile, their projects will be put on hold.) (SunStar Philippines)