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Conditions for land reclamations under RA 7160


LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Jesus Christ, our God and Savior, in Matthew 16:26, the Holy Bible).

CONDITIONS FOR RECLAIMING LAND FROM THE BAY: Can a local government unit, such as Pasay City, reclaim some 300 hectares of land from a part of the Manila Bay which falls under its territorial jurisdiction for the purpose of giving much of the reclaimed land to a private business? If we are to go by the provisions of Section 17 of Republic Act 7160, or the Local Government Code of 1991, it would seem it cannot do that.

Why not? Simply because under Section 17 of the Code, it is clear that a city can only pursue a “reclamation project” if certain conditions are met. These conditions are, one, the reclamation project is intended to service the needs of the residents of the city, and two, the reclamation project is to be funded by city funds.

In the projected reclamation of the 300 hectares land from the Manila Bay by Pasay City however, it is immediately undeniable that the reclamation project is really not intended to service the needs of the residents of Pasay City, as, documents obtained from the City Hall would show, it is clear that much of the reclaimed land would go to a private company. It is also clear from those documents that the project is not to use any city funds, but would be solely financed by that private company.

PASAY CITY COUNCIL RESOLUTIONS ON LAND RECLAMATION: Resolution No. 3020, Series of 2013, of the Pasay City Council on the land deal for instance contains one significant “Whereas Clause” which says: “WHEREAS, the (private company) will undertake and fully finance the project, including the cost of all the necessary permits and clearances from government agencies and the expenses to comply with all the government and legal requirements…”

The same Resolution No. 3020, Series of 2013, passed on August 12, 2013, went on further to say under another “Whereas Clause”, that: “WHEREAS, under the proposal, there will be no expense on the part of the City Government of Pasay as its contribution to the joint venture will be its authority, rights and privileges to undertake reclamation projects in its jurisdiction under existing laws…”

This resolution was duly signed Vice Mayor Marlon Pesebre, and Councilors Mary Grace Santos, Allan Panaligan, Jennifer Roxas, Aileen Lopez, Richard Advincula, Ian Vendibel, Alberto Alvina, Arnel Regino Arceo, Eduardo Advincula, Arvin Tolentino, Lexter Ibay, Reynaldo Padua, Ma. Antonia Cuneta (representing the Liga ng mga Barangay) and Richard Roxas (representing the Sangguniang Kabataan).

By Batas Mauricio

LOCAL GOV’T CODE AND LAND RECLAMATION: On the other hand, here is what a part of Section 17 of Republic Act 7160, or the Local Government Code of 1991, says on the matter: “Section 17. Basic Services and Facilities… Local government units shall…  also discharge the functions and responsibilities of national agencies and offices devolved to them pursuant to this Code…”

The Code then went on to add that “… (S)uch basic services and facilities include, but are not limited to, the following… Infrastructure facilities intended to service the needs of the residents of the (city) and which are funded out of (city) funds including, but not limited to… reclamation projects… and similar facilities…”

Clearly, this portion of the Code requires the two conditions we cited here—the project must service the needs of the residents of the city, and city funds must be used for that project—before a local government unit (like Pasay City) can undertake any reclamation project. The question for Pasay City therefore is this: why is the city giving the reclaimed land to the private company and not to its residents, and why is the private company the one paying for the project in its entirety? Answers, please?

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