Philippines nixes Trump associate’s project over concerns

By on December 16, 2016

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez (Photo: Gina Lopez/Facebook)
Environment Secretary Gina Lopez (Photo: Gina Lopez/Facebook)

MANILA, Philippines—Philippine environment officials have cancelled a compliance certificate for a housing project by President-elect Donald Trump’s business associate, saying it would endanger a watershed that supplies drinking water to 12 million people.

Century Communities Corp. seeks to put up the 58-hectare (143-acre) housing project within the 2,000-hectare (4,942-acre) La Mesa Watershed in the capital. It is the source of metropolitan Manila’s drinking water.

“That’s the watershed of 12 million people and I cannot see the possibility that a business interest is more important than the water our people drink,” said Environment Secretary Regina Lopez.

The certificate issued by the previous administration has been cancelled because of scientific recommendation against any kind of development inside the watershed, she said.

The company was founded by Jose E.B. Antonio, named by President Rodrigo Duterte in October as a special envoy to the United States. It is a subsidiary of Century Properties Group Inc. that Antonio chairs and which has partnered with Trump for the branding of the posh Trump Tower in Manila. The tower is expected to be completed next year.

The company said Friday it would wait for official communication from the Environment Department before issuing a statement. The project’s construction has not yet started.

Officials said some conditions stipulated in the certificate were not fulfilled, including a hydrological study because the department’s team was not allowed inside the project site. A tree-cutting permit for the project could also not be issued because a 2007 presidential proclamation that established a reservation in the watershed would not allow it, they added.

The certificate is a requirement for a project with potential significant impact to the environment.