The Department of Finance has given the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) the green light for 20 of 96 reclamation projects in the pipeline, which could generate hundreds of billions of pesos worth of public assets and help modernize some of the country’s vital ports.
“We cannot overstate the importance of growing our land to support our nation’s development. Being an archipelago, we actually have less land between mountainside and shoreline for cultivation and habitation than it might seem. As our population continues to grow, pressure on the land assets will continue to rise,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd was quoted as saying during 40th anniversary celebration of the PRA held last week.
The PRA, he said, is also open to unsolicited proposals to enable the private sector proponents to partner with the government and share their innovations and technologies to help build “economically and environmentally sustainable property developments.”
“We have hundreds of thousands of Filipinos residing in hazardous areas. These are areas along steep slopes, riverbanks and shorelines vulnerable to flood surges and landslides. We urgently need new and safer areas to be developed for habitation,” he added.
The PRA has identified 96 reclamation projects in various stages of the evaluation and approval process. In addition, the agency has identified 487 unauthorized projects for which government is seeking reimbursement or forfeiture of the land, he noted.
“About 20 reclamation projects are ready to commence in the near future. These projects will potentially produce hundreds of billions of pesos worth of public assets and help modernize some of our most vital ports,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez said new land is needed to supplement available space for new roads and ports. “This will have an impact on the congestion of our cities and the growing lack of space for schools and residential buildings. Reclamation will provide for these.”
He said the PRA, which has the power and authority to dispose of idle public lands and enter into contracts, will play a key role in expanding the land area that the country needs to fill these ever-growing requirements.
Dominguez pointed out that the PRA is no longer confined to the Manila Bay area as it was during most of the past 40 years as its responsibilities now cover various projects in nearly all our major port cities.
“With the correct leadership and an imaginative blueprint, the PRA holds the potential for enlarging the amount of reclaimed land available for residential and commercial development. This agency is a land source and a major provider of assets to support our development goals,” he said.
Dominguez commended the PRA for constantly updating the knowledge and skills of its core of engineers on modern dredging and reclamation technologies, and upgrading the state-run firm’s capacity to monitor its projects.
He also lauded the PRA for initiating programs that would open opportunities for public-private, as well as public-public partnerships, which will enable the agency to be pro-active in developing “critically important projects” with local government units nationwide.
“I sense the energy and commitment of the entire agency to be an active contributor to our nation’s progress. I can only encourage you to carry on with your visionary blueprint,” Dominguez said.
The PRA, formerly the Public Estates Authority, was created 40 years ago to serve as a clearinghouse for the disposal of idle public lands and the reclamation of key areas.
Mandated by law to be self-liquidating, the PRA has produced assets and revenues for the government by reclaiming land and converting these into valuable real estate. The 1,500-hectare Manila Bay Reclamation Project is considered as the PRA’s foremost achievement.
Dominguez said that on top of functioning as a clearinghouse, the PRA “now has the additional task of protecting foreshore areas such as Tacloban.”
“The 1,500-hectare Manila Bay reclamation project now known as Bay City is the PRA’s crowning glory although, I am told, a long list of important projects will be built over the next few years.” he said.