MANILA, Philippines - Former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza denounced Friday alleged plans of the City of Manila to reclaim parts of Manila Bay.
In a press conference, Atienza questioned City Council Resolution 8233 approved June 6, 2011, authorizing Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim to file an application with the Philippine Reclamation Authority to reclaim certain portions of Manila Bay.
The ordinance said the reclamation may start from the city's southern coastline border of Manila and Pasay City beginning near the south bank of the Estero de Maytubig.
The ordinance was principally authored by Councilor Joel Chua and Ernesto Isip Jr.
Ordinance 8233 basically reverses a 1993 ordinance signed by both Lim and Atienza that bans reclamation of the Manila Bay.
Atienza said the new ordinance was passed without public hearings and an environmental impact assessment from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. He said the ordinance was kept from affected residents of the 5th district.
"That definitely is something which should be known by the public. Tinago nila. One year ago aprubado na ito. Alam ba niyo ito? Walang may alam nito,” he said.
Atienza appealed to President Aquino to step in. "If you want a transparent government, we must put transparency in this project."
He said he is prepared to take his battle all the way to the Supreme Court.
Risk of flooding
Calling it "hiyas ng mahihirap", the former mayor said Manila Bay provides the poor of the city some leisure. He said the Lim administration already destroyed the Baywalk, Atienza's project when he was mayor.
Atienza estimates that about 2 and a half kilometers of open bay risk being reclaimed, which heightens the risk of flooding from the Bay area all the way to San Andres.
He said the Malabon-Navotas Area is now flooded most of the time because of the reclamation in that part of the bay while in the Pasay area, lots of reclaimed land was wasted.
Atienza challenged Manila Vice-Mayor Isko Moreno not to approve any contracts Lim will sign for the reclamation. The City Council, of which the vice mayor is the presiding officer, has to approve any contracts signed by the mayor.
Atienza won’t run, backs Erap
Atienza meantime insisted he is not running for mayor of the city, and will instead support the candidacy of former President Joseph Estrada.
"Hindi ako kandidato. I'm not running for mayor. You cannot accuse me of any political motivation. I haven't decided for any other position but I'm not running for mayor,” he said.
Atienza noted Estrada already has a good track record as San Juan City mayor, senator, vice president and president.
He said Manila needs a mayor who will look after the impoverished in the city. "And that's Erap,” he said.
Atienza said the reclamation is just the latest in a growing list of questionable transactions of the city, like the sale of the Century Park Sheraton, the reversal of an ordinance removing the Pandacan oil depot and the planned sale of the Manila Zoo and Ospital ng Maynila.