The development of Sangley Point International Airport in Cavite to relieve the pressure off the Ninoy Aquino International Airport is inspired by the successful experiences of other countries that resorted to reclamation for the expansion of their respective international gateways that will handle increasing air traffic.
Sangley Point’s development is a huge undertaking that would require reclamation of at least 1,400 hectares of land off Manila Bay.
During the inauguration of the SPIA development project last Feb. 15, President Rodrigo Duterte stressed he would not allow massive reclamation in Manila Bay initiated by the private sector but those connected with government projects may be allowed to proceed.
“I will only allow maybe plans of whatever reclamation if it’s in connection with the government projects,” President Duterte said.
The Provincial Government of Cavite had awarded the initial phase of the SPIA project to the consortium of state-run China Communications Construction Co. Ltd. and MacroAsia Corp. of taipan Lucio Tan.
Under the joint venture between the Cavite government and the private sector, the government will reclaim the land and lease it to the winning bidder while the private partner will build the airport and facilities.
Many of the world’s biggest and busiest airports like Singapore’s Changi Airport Singapore, which is voted as the World’s Best Airport 2019 by international air travellers for the seventh consecutive year, were erected on reclaimed land.
About 870 hectares of land reclaimed were from the sea off the eastern tip of Singapore to accommodate the Changi Airport.
As of December 2019, Changi Airport is serving more than 100 airlines flying to 380 destinations in around 100 countries and territories worldwide. Each week, around 7,400 flights arrive or depart at the airport.
Likewise, the construction of Hong Kong International Airport, located on the Chek Lap Kok Island in the western waters of the territory, required the reclamation of 1,248 hectares of land. The San Francisco International Airport, as well as the Kansai International Airport and the Tokyo International Airport in Japan, also involved reclamation to expand their operational capacity.
Aside from reclamation activities directly related to the SPIA development, the Cavite provincial government earlier stressed that additional reclamation is necessary.
“In fact, the Sangley Point has been shown to be the most feasible area for the airport-seaport complex with enabling reclamation component. With this, it is necessary for Cavite to provide large parcels of land to accommodate the envisioned developmental growth,” the provincial government said in its application for Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) for the proposed, 1,331-hectare Cavite Reclamation Project (CRP).
Bacoor City, also in Cavite, has likewise proposed a 420-hectare reclamation project that could provide the needed additional space and features congruent with the SPIA development.
Bacoor is strategically-located being less than 30 kilometers away from Sangley and just around 20 kilometers away from NAIA and would provide an ideal location for the planned road connectors to both airports.
With mixed-use development that includes residential, commercial, hotel and recreation, tourism, as well as a Science Park, the Bacoor reclamation projects would be able to accommodate a large portion of the foreign arrivals at SPIA.
In addition, the Bacoor reclamation projects are also meant to attract investments and new businesses, both foreign and local, whose operations would involve shipment of goods and travel of personnel utilizing either SPIA or the NAIA.
Bacoor City leaders believe the proposed reclamation project would propel the city’s rise as a new growth center adjacent to Metro Manila, generate at least 700,000 new jobs for its residents and those in nearby areas and enable the city government to improve the delivery of basic services for its people.
The reclamation project was pushed to provide additional land space necessary for new developments and accommodate the projected growth of the city’s population of around 600,000 that is expected to double by 2025. As of today, at least 73 percent of the city’s land area is devoted to residential use.
Bacoor leaders said the project will also hasten the Manila Bay clean up drive in compliance with the 2008 mandamus of the Supreme Court with the in-city relocation of ISFs who are at risk in coastal areas. ISFs will be relocated at “Ciudad Kaunlaran in Molino II, while affected families of fishermen will be resettled at the “Fisherman’s Village” in Brgy. Alima.
The Bacoor city government also cited the studies conducted by leading international experts to show the project poses no significant adverse environmental impact on Manila Bay and the adjacent areas.
Incorporating deep water channels connecting to Manila Bay, the reclamation project is also intended to complement the anti-flood projects of the government through the Department of Public Works and Highways to mitigate the perennial flooding in the city that is identified as a catch basin of Cavite.