“My biggest objection to reclamation is it will make the inner cities of Metro Manila and nearby Cavite and Laguna even more densely populated”
If President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. does not put a stop to it, and wealthy land speculators from China and elsewhere are allowed to partner with reclamation claimants to a thousand and a half hectares of Manila Bay, ordinary folks like you and me will no longer be able to view the fabled sunset, even if we sit for weeks on end in the wasted dolomite beach off Roxas Boulevard.
I have no complaints over the landfill over marshland that would expand Ramon Ang’s Bulakan aerocity where a new international airport will hopefully rise within my lifetime.
Nor would I object if Gov. Jonvic Remulla reclaims part of the bay surrounding his proposed Sangley international airport.
Both projects will make the NAIA complex obsolete as an airport because in the case of Sangley, they share the same air corridor.
NAIA with its more or less 640 hectares can thus be converted into a well-planned real estate development with about a fifth of it transformed into a huge sprawling park similar to Manhattan’s Central Park or San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
The two new international airports will thus obviate the salivating “need” for Metro Manila’s local governments to expand via reclamation in Manila Bay, while raising hefty revenues for the government at a time of financial difficulties which I imagine will stretch over the entire term, even beyond, of President Marcos’ six-year term.
I do not anchor my objection to the many bay reclamations on environmental issues, simply because I have no expertise on such matters.
But I am being consistent, because in previous articles on this space I have already written about why I object to these reclamation projects, and, at one point, even praised Pres. Duterte for speaking out against them.
The issue has reared its ugly head once again because there was a recent protest rally against the many reclamation projects, and there have been conflicting judicial actions on cases involving overlapping metes and bounds of two of these “approved” projects.
Apparently, former mayor of Manila and former Pres. Estrada awarded a 318-hectare reclamation project fronting the bayside to a corporation controlled by William Gatchalian, which overlaps with another project claimed by a corporation once controlled by construction magnate F.F. Cruz, now by his heirs.
Cruz’s Asian Seas Resources and Construction Development Corporation (Asserco) has a NEDA-approved reclamation while Gatchalian’s project supposedly has none.
In short, the City of Manila under Estrada failed to do what Pres. FVR called “complete staff work” (CSW), when they awarded the huge area supposedly sans public bidding, to Gatchalian’s Waterfront Manila Premier company.
As the matter is still with the Makati RTC with two judges giving conflicting decisions, and will likely go further up the judicial ladder, again, I will not comment on the legal merits.
Moreover, as of this writing, Pres. Marcos has yet to appoint replacements for the officers of the Philippine Reclamation Authority, assuming he has no intention of retaining the Duterte appointees.
Apart from these two, there are other “approved” reclamation projects from Las Pinas and Paranaque in the south to Navotas in the north, going through Pasay and Manila.
In several helicopter trips during the campaign, I saw one such project already being land-filled with amazing speed by a big-time Mindanao-based contractor fronting Pasay and Manila’s boundaries.
For one who grew up in Manila, and has resided in the nation’s capital almost all my life, I rue the loss of the fabled sunset over our beloved bay. Many more will cry when eventually all that is gone, covered by glitzy high-rise condominiums (or so the project proponents dream) owned and occupied by the rich and entitled, from here or abroad.
By then the dolomite beach of former DENR Sec. Roy Cimatu and his “Mandamus Agencies” will have turned gray or dark green with fetid waters, and when these agencies return the bay walk to us, gone will be our beloved sunset view of the horizon.
The “approval” of these projects show how tribal our LGU officials are. They care only for their territorial jurisdiction, and to hell with the rest of the nation.
First, they salivate over the potential real property taxes and the business and occupancy permits.
Second, their territories are over-crowded. Blame that on a population that thinks making babies is great even if they cannot feed them. And poor people from the provinces trying their luck in the “big apple” that Metro Manila to them is.
As for the proponents of this reclamation craze, they know that it is cheaper to reclaim one square meter of land in the bay than it is to buy the same natural land area in the inner metropolis.
Imagine a million pesos per square meter in BGC or upscale Makati, as against reclaiming the same from the bay, getting Chinese businessmen to invest up-front, and selling the finished product at atrocious prices, probably higher even than inland BGC or Makati.
My biggest objection to reclamation is it will make the inner cities of Metro Manila and nearby Cavite and Laguna even more densely populated.
When the construction workers brought in from the provinces are done with their work, guess whether they will go back to where they came from.
They won’t. Instead, finding temporary work and hoping to find continuing work in the metropolis, they will re-populate our already groaning slum communities.
And those myopic LGUs who sponsor the massive reclamation of the bay will be left with even more social and economic problems than the quick financial fix of reclamation will deliver.
Sure, there is little land left for human habitation in NCR. But the solution lies not in reclaiming the bay for the rich.
The solution is to build better, well-planned infrastructure for the rest of the country that will create livelihood opportunities in the countryside.
Only the Office of the President can put a stop to these reclamation projects now.
Never mind the cases that the “developers” will bring to the courts, even if they reach the Supreme Court that has in the recent past mandated the clean-up of Manila Bay.
Mr. President, save Manila Bay, so future generations will not have to cry over its loss.