RECLAMATION projects around Manila Bay will attract investments in vertical property development worth P23 trillion, with an additional P1.95 trillion expected in low-rise “horizontal” development, the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) told a Congressional panel on Monday.
In addition, reclamation costs have been estimated at P650 billion.
“The 14 approved projects from Navotas to Cavite province have a total area of 5,503 hectares (ha) which is 2.8% of Manila Bay,” PRA assistant general manager Joseph John Literal told the House ways and means committee.
The reclamation development phase will generate fees for the PRA worth P25 billion, extraction fees worth P30 billion. The valuation of the raw land assets was estimated at P734.71 billion, Mr. Literal said.
Horizontal development from Manila Bay reclamation projects would generate fees of P19 billion, with real property taxes estimated at P4.8 million per hectare. The saleable land asserts are valued at P2.20 billion.
“Reclamation projects offer immense economic opportunities, and hence, offer opportunities to expand fiscal space,” House ways and means panel chairman and Albay Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda said.
Eight reclamation projects are currently awaiting approval, Mr. Literal said.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. in August suspended all reclamation projects around Manila Bay.
“A suspension is not tantamount to the abandonment of the projects and may be an opportunity for us to rethink the costs and benefits of reclamation projects,” Mr. Salceda said.
Mr. Literal cited Jurong in Singapore as an example of how reclamation can become “a platform for economic growth,” making Singapore the eighth largest exporter of chemicals by 2019.
He also cited the SM Mall of Asia complex, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines-Financial Center Area complex, which were reclaimed in the 1990s and the 1960s and 70s, respectively.
“Through the decades, these reclamation projects have survived typhoons and floods — proving the stability, safety and reliability of reclamation,” he told the panel.
A 2014 study conducted by University of Illinois professor Kelvin Rodolfo on the geological hazards of the Manila Bay reclamation projects showed that the capital region’s coastal areas are sinking by nine centimeters every year.
International environmental group Oceana has urged the government to permanently halt reclamation projects along Manila Bay, citing ecological damage.
“They put in peril food security, violate our constitutional right to a healthy, balanced, safe and resilient environment and the right of artisanal fisherfolk and coastal communities to access their fishing grounds and livelihoods,” the group said in August.
It takes 30 years to complete a reclamation project, Mr. Literal said, with four years needed to develop raw land through reclamation, three years for horizontal development, and 23 years for vertical development. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz