Philippines’ Duterte to directly oversee building of artificial islands

Premier issues executive order transferring control of the Philippine Reclamation Authority to his office

Breakwater in Manila Bay. Jomar Aplaon/Shutterstock

The government agency tasked to approve reclamation projects in the Philippines will be transferred from the economic ministry to the presidential office, state media announced this week.

Under Executive Order No. 74 signed Friday, President Rodrigo Duterte is taking over the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

The move will render the firebrand leader more “hands-on” on reclamation projects, said Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo.

“That’s the discretion of the President,” he said. “He has control over executive departments and offices. Perhaps the reason is to streamline the services of agencies. Perhaps it’s more effective.”

While the Office of the President will directly control and supervise the PRA, the power to approve all reclamation projects will be delegated to the PRA Governing Board.

“Such delegation, however, shall not be construed as diminishing the President’s authority to modify, amend, or nullify the action of the PRA Governing Board,” according to the directive.

The transfer comes on the heels of reports that Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada approved three reclamation projects in Manila Bay. Around 43 reclamation projects, including artificial islands, have been proposed in waters around the country’s national capital region.

Prior to its transfer to NEDA, the PRA worked under the auspices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The environmental agency will be responsible for issuing Area Clearance and Environmental Compliance Certificates to reclamation projects before they can gain approval from the PRA, the executive order stated.