By Cai Ordinario, January 21, 2020; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Nonie Reyes as cited by Business Mirror

The National Economic Development Authority (Neda) said most of the big-ticket infrastructure projects of the Duterte administration will require minimal reclamation work.

In a television interview last week, President Duterte had expressed his reservations to allowing additional reclamation projects in Manila Bay.

“He (the President) has expressed that a number of times, not just once. As you know, Neda is not directly involved anymore in the approval of reclamation projects. And so we’ll see how it’s going to impact those who are planning or have already approved reclamation projects,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said.

The Neda noted that out of the 100 flagship projects, only the Bataan-Cavite interlink bridge, which is being designed with Asian Development Bank (ADB) assistance, will require reclamation.

The P187-billion Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge involves the construction of two long span bridges with a total length of 31 kilometers and connecting Mariveles, Bataan to Corregidor to Naic, Cavite.

The feasibility study of the project is being funded under ADB’s $200-million Infrastructure Preparation and Innovation Facility (IPIF).

Neda Officer in Charge Undersecretary Jonathan L. Uy said the reclamation for the project is now being undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

“(In the case of) most reclamation projects, if they are found to be not environmentally sustainable, there are mitigation measures which may entail changing the nature of the input, therefore reclamation may not be the only solution,” said Uy.

“So as far as planning these projects are concerned, we adhere to the requirements that these be environmentally sustainable and socially acceptable,” he added.

The Neda is currently crafting the Manila Bay Master Plan to provide a comprehensive framework for the sustainable development and management of the entire Manila Bay area.

It is envisioned to guide future decisions on programs and projects within the Bay area. The project is being funded together with the Dutch government and focused on ensuring environmental sustainability in Manila Bay.

Uy said the Neda has finalized the masterplan which will also be used as a model to plan for other coastal cities such as Davao and Cebu as well as others across the country.

“The output is now being used by the Metro Manila bay task force of DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) with regard to proposed interventions particularly (the) regulatory aspects (of the Manila bay),” Uy said.

Manila Bay is the catchment basin of major rivers in the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Bataan, Laguna and Cavite.

In 2014 the Department of Tourism pushed for the crafting of a “tourism master plan” for the Manila Bay region, while the private sector wanted a comprehensive master plan to spur economic development in the area.