By Genalyn Kabiling
There will be no room for preferential treatment of President Duterte’s friends on the approval of reclamation projects in the country, Malacañang assured the public on Monday after the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) has been placed under his control and supervision.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the proponents of reclamation projects must follow the country’s laws to get government consent, adding the President was no respecter of alliances or friendship.
“The President basta gusto niya laging compliant with the law. Ayaw niya ng brasuhan, ayaw niya ng palakasan. Palaging kung ano ang batas, sundin na lang natin [The President wants that they will compliant with the law. He dislikes unfair competition, he dislikes patronage. We must only follow the country’s laws],” Panelo said during a Palace press briefing.
Panelo made the assurance to dispel speculations that the President was seeking to rush the reclamation project in Manila Bay proposed by a consortium led by his friend Davao businessman Dennis Uy. The P62-billion reclamation project in Pasay City reportedly still requires the evaluation by concerned government agencies.
Early in the day, the Palace released a copy of Executive Order No. 74 transferring the PRA to the Office of the President from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The same order also delegated the President’s power to approve reclamation projects to the PRA Governing Board from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
The order said there was a need “to rationalize the approval process of reclamation projects towards an economically and environmentally sustainable resource development.”
Asked if the order was meant to favor Uy’s Manila Bay reclamation project, Panelo said: “Any executive order issued by the President is favorable to the Filipino people not to a particular individual.”
“He’s been telling us, ‘I am no respecter of alliances of friends or relatives. Comply with the law otherwise ako ang kalaban ninyo. ‘Yan sabi ni Presidente [He’s been telling us, ‘I am no respecter of alliances, of friends or relatives. Comply with the law otherwise I will be your enemy.’ That’s what the President said],” he added.
Panelo explained that the President’s new executive order about the reclamation projects seeks streamline the functions of the concerned agencies in the delivery of service.
“It’s the discretion of the President. He has control over the executive department and offices. Perhaps the reason is to streamline the services of agencies, baka was effective,” he added.