The proposed development of the futuristic project known as “Manila Solar City (MSC)” — originally envisioned by former Mayor Fred Lim — appears to be back on track as this is tied up with the rejection by the Court of Appeals (CA) of the bid of Sen. Cynthia Villar, who belongs to one of the wealthiest families in the country, to derail implementation of a long-pending reclamation project near her political bailiwick, in the Manila Bay.
In denying Sen. Villar, wife of recently-retired Sen. Manny Villar, the appellate court noted there weren’t any new compelling arguments raised in her latest petition that would convince the court to overturn its earlier ruling concerning the soundness of the multi-billion reclamation project to be handled by Al Tech Contractors, which had already gotten the nod from several respected green consultancy groups.
The CA threw out for lack of merit Villar’s motion for failing to show that the said undertaking, which aims to reclaim some 635 hectares of submerged land off south Metro Manila, would cause massive environmental damage along the coastline.
Associate Justice Apolinario Bruselas, in his ruling which was concurred in by colleagues Rebecca de Guia-Salvador and Samuel Gaerlan, said the arguments aired by Sen. Villar in her motion for reconsideration were simply a “rehash” of the points she had already made in her original motion which was already canned by the body.
Justice Bruselas underlined the fact that there was no credible, competent and reliable evidence presented by the petitioner to prove that the project would wreak such great havoc on the environment to the point of endangering the lives of thousands of residents in Parañaque and Las Piñas, as alleged.
He said that petitioner’s apprehensions had already been disproved by expert scientific studies carried out by reputable organizations with vast experience under their belts, and any further discussion about them was just a waste of time.
Sen. Villar’s staunch objection to the humongous project in her area was viewed with much puzzlement inasmuch as she is a dyed-in-the-wool real estate businesswoman, with billions in assets to show, and one who is supposed to be aware that well-managed reclamation of the sea was responsible for much of the soaring economic development that the tiny Middle East emirate of Dubai is experiencing today. In Hong Kong and Singapore, several reclamation projects are in the pipeline to create valuable real estate space which is so much in demand and of which they are so critically short.
Last year, Mrs. Villar sought judicial relief against Al Tech, saying its project might impede the natural flow of the river in Las Piñas and Parañaque, cause widespread flooding and destroy the marine and mangrove habitat.
In any case, news of Villar’s snub by the CA was greeted with much delight and elation in Manila City Hall which is up to its neck with the antics of so-called environmental watchdogs who are rabidly against the MSC, a 148-hectare reclamation project adjacent to the depressed Tondo area that the Manila Gold Coast Development Corp. hopes to undertake.
As far as Mayor Joseph Estrada is concerned, the MSC is a definite go because the city is projected to earn some P17 billion in sales and other taxes on top of the P10 billion in realty taxes yearly from the venture.
Apart from this, there are also tremendous employment opportunities to be availed of. The developer has estimated that he will be needing some 100,000 blue collar workers during the construction phase alone; and once it is in full swing, he has given assurances he would be hiring another 600,000 for the operations, which would go a long way in solving the problem of unemployment and the continued economic deterioration of the city.