Let reason prevail in Manila Bay Reclamation Project

This resistance to the Manila Bay Reclamation Project isn’t something new. Right after President Cory C. Aquino became president in 1986, former Bulletin president Nap Rama introduced me to a Chinese investor who had a similar reclamation plan but was impeded by similar emotional outbursts from people crying that “save our sunset” bovine ordure.

If you really think about it, “Save our sunset” is an absurd claim. Those crying “save our sunset” have no legal claims to the Manila Bay Sunset, no more than you and me. Check your land title and see if there’s a sunrise or sunset included in what you own. It’s a promotional gimmick meant to inject an emotional element that will stir resistance.

The reclamation is happening behind the Cultural Center land and not along Roxas Boulevard, which is also reclaimed land. The sunset isn’t going anywhere. What will happen is that there’ll be progress that will allow all of us to still avail of the Manila Bay Sunset in an even better location than its present site. We’ll still have our Manila Bay Sunset while more jobs are created, where more recreation sites are erected in order to attract more tourists and improve our economy.

Don’t just take my word for it. Listen to the assessment of respected urban planner Jun Palafox about the Manila Bay Reclamation Project. Per Palafox, “there are disadvantages to doing a reclamation project, like it can worsen flooding, block the views of existing waterfront development, harm aquatic resources, environment and heritage historic sites. However, there are also many advantages if planned, designed, engineered, and implemented properly in the right place, at the right time, at the right land-use density and type of development. In Europe, they call water reclamation Corniche.”

All this time, we’re just hearing the side of the “save our sunset” whiners. No expert ever told us that all these problems that the “save our sunset” whiners have been peddling could all be addressed with the right engineering plan. The point now is why impede progress if the downside could all be avoided.

Palafox further stated that “a properly planned, designed, engineered, and implemented reclamation area can function as wave breakers to storm surges and tsunami, add urban land supply, provide the opportunity to properly masterplan new urban developments, increase jobs, and generally alleviate poverty.” He enumerated successful reclamation projects around the world that didn’t encounter the “doomsday” predictions of the “save our sunset” whiners.

Singapore had reclaimed over 6,000 hectares to enlarge their island city-state from 65,000 hectares to 71,000 hectares. Palafox mentioned that two-thirds of The Netherlands is reclaimed and yet there’s no flooding. Dubai, with only 70 km of waterfront, reclaimed the Palm Islands to add 2,000 km more of waterfront. A lot of progress there and we Filipinos shouldn’t miss out on this opportunity just because of these “save our sunset” whiners.

Per the developer of the reclamation project, the Manila Goldcoast Development Corporation (MGDC), they’ll abide by best practices and use the state of the art green technology.

MGDC vowed: “It (the reclamation) will not cause floods and will, in fact, reduce the occurrence of floods like other reclamation models all over the globe. We will have our own renewable power supply, recycled and treated water, and waste to energy facilities.” MGDC further committed that it will not disrupt the marine ecology and human settlers in the area. They said: “Studies conclusively show the absence of marine life — even sponges and ascidians that are tolerant to turbid and polluted water — in the project site and contiguous areas … The project will not cause the displacement of settlers. It will not lead to a loss of jobs.”

The Environment Management Bureau (EMB) of the Natural Resources Department (DENR) refused to issue the recall of the MGDC Environmental Compliance Certificate or ECC. EMB Director Juan Miguel Cuna said that the EMB couldn’t recall ECCs on the basis of perceived disasters alone.

Cuna added: “An ECC is a document showing that a proposed project has undergone an environmental study and the adverse environmental effects of the proposed project have somewhat been predicted and corresponding measures to arrest or mitigate the same will be implemented by the proponent.”

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 26, 2013

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