By Zaldy De Layola

HASTEN PROBE. A boat passes by a reclamation project in Manila Bay, near Diokno Boulevard in Pasay City, on Sept. 10, 2023. House Deputy Majority Leader Erwin Tulfo said Sunday (July 7, 2024) urged Congress to speed up the inquiry on reclamation projects following the recent arrest of nine Chinese nationals who disembarked from a dredging vessel. (PNA photo by Joan Bondoc)

MANILA – Congress should expedite the inquiry on a reclamation project in Manila Bay, following the recent arrest of nine Chinese nationals who disembarked from a dredging vessel, House Deputy Majority Leader and ACT-CIS Party-List Rep. Erwin Tulfo said Sunday.

Tulfo filed a resolution last year asking for a House probe on the Manila Bay reclamation due to national security threats after learning that all workers on the said project are Chinese nationals.

Ito ‘yung sinasabi ko noon na bumababa ng barko nila ang mga manggagawa na Chinese at umiikot dito sa (This is what I was saying then that these Chinese workers used to get off ships and go around Metro Manila),” the party-list solon said in a news release.

Ang tanong ngayon: Ano ang pakay nila para gumala sila sa Maynila gayong wala silang mga (The question now: what is their intention in roaming around Manila when they don’t have) visas?”

The United States Embassy was the first to express concern about the reclamation after it was learned that a Chinese company was involved in the project, according to Tulfo.

He noted that the company China Communications Construction Co., which is in charge of the dredging and reclamation operations, is the same company responsible for building air and naval bases in territories belonging to the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea.

Before the arrest of the Chinese nationals, Bureau of Immigration Intelligence Division chief Fortunato Manahan Jr. disclosed that they immediately conducted surveillance and intelligence gathering after receiving reports that certain Chinese individuals were disembarking from and boarding vessels along Manila Bay. 

Those arrested were aged between 33 and 54, Manahan said. 

In August 2023, Tulfo and fellow ACT-CIS representatives Edvic Yap and Jocelyn Tulfo, filed House Resolution No. 1171, requesting the House Committees on National Defense and Security, and Ecology, to review the reclamation projects surrounding Manila Bay.

Kailangan na talaga nating tutukan itong seguridad ng ating bansa dahil nagkalat na ang mga ‘yan sa ating bansa (We really need to focus on the security of our land because they [Chinese] are all over our country),” Tulfo said. (PNA)