Duterte transfers power to approve reclamation projects to his office

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 04 2019 11:39 AM | Updated as of Feb 04 2019 12:28 PM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order transferring the power to approve reclamation projects to the Office of the President.

Duterte signed on Feb. 1 EO No. 74 transferring the Philippine Reclamation Authority to the OP.

Previously, the PRA was under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, while the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board was given the power to approve reclamation projects even as the PRA was allowed to continue to process, evaluate, and recommend the approval of all proposed reclamation projects to the NEDA Board.

EO No. 74 repeals the EOs designating power to the DENR and NEDA Board over the PRA.

In signing EO No. 74, the President argued that “there is a need to rationalize the approval process of reclamation projects towards an economically and environmentally sustainable resource development.”

EO No. 74 states that the PRA shall now be under the control and supervision of the OP, while the power of the President to approve all reclamation projects shall be delegated to the PRA Governing Board.

“Such delegation, however, shall not be construed as diminishing the President’s authority to modify, amend or nullify the action of the PRA Governing Board,” the EO reads.

The EO also mandates the PRA to seek advisory opinions from the NEDA, DENR, and Department of Finance on any proposed reclamation project.

It states that no reclamation project shall be approved by the PRA without the required area clearance and environmental compliance certificate from the DENR.

The EO applies to “all reclamation projects, including those initiated by LGUs and all other agencies, government-owned or -controlled corporations or any government entity allowed under existing laws to reclaim land, for which there are no contracts/agreements yet executed.”

The President’s move to transfer the PRA under the OP came just as Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada approved three reclamation projects along the Manila Bay.

Leftist lawmakers have also warned that the ongoing efforts to rehabilitate Manila bay was just a prelude for the rise of reclamation projects in the famed body of water.