MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday rejected any private sector-initiated "massive reclamation" projects in Manila Bay, citing the need to protect the environment and the country's capital city.
Duterte said that if any, he may allow reclamation activities in Manila Bay only if in connection with a government project, and proposed projects that have already been approved by the Philippine Reclamation Authority.
"Not now, because if I --- if you approve one, you approve all. Ganun ‘yan eh (That's how it is)," Duterte said, warning of Manila City eventually getting chocked.
"The entire Manila City would be environmentally at peril. So, pag-aralan ninyo nang mabuti 'yan. For the next administration, study it very carefully because that Manila there, that old city is an old city and it will decay if you add so many things in front of Manila Bay," he said in a speech at the inauguration of the Sangley Airport in Cavite.
Almost 10,000 hectares of the Manila Bay, from Navotas City to Cavite, are supposed to undergo reclamation under 25 projects.
The government was earlier warned that dumping soil into the Manila Bay would displace thousands of residents, cause flooding, and harm its biodiversity.
Duterte already said last month he was unlikely to approve proposed reclamation projects in the bay, describing the undertaking as "mind-boggling."
In his speech Saturday, Duterte said he transferred the power to approve reclamation projects to the Office of the President last year because of "lobbying" at the PRA.
"Sabi ko, (I said) no. No, no reclamation. You wait until the next president... They may look at it kindly at a different lens," he said.