RESETTLEMENT OF URBAN POOR AND OPPOSITION OF MANILA BAY RECLAMATION PROJECT

As a part of joint project of Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and Department of Interior and Local Government to remove illegal setters in six major waterways, the two government agencies led the groundbreaking rites for a housing project intended for the affected families.

DILG Secretary Mar Roxas leads groundbreaking for Manila resettlement project.

DILG Secretary Mar Roxas leads groundbreaking for Manila resettlement project.

This project is different from other relocation projects. Some 120 families living at Estero de San Miguel will be relocated to a housing project that would greatly benefit them. Instead of relocating them outside of Metro Manila, President Benigno Aquino said that they should be not be transferred far from where they use to live. And so, the housing master plan provides a better location for the families- the site is near their source of livelihood and children’s school. And they will be given a permanent place.

Instead of relocating informal settlers outside Metro Manila, he said President Aquino has ordered government agencies to make sure that these families, who earns about P5,000 to P10,000 monthly from selling newspapers, sari-sari stores, or taking odd jobs, would not be transferred far from where they used to live.

This program is to help the families from the risk of living in waterways, which is considered a danger zone, due to rising waters and flooding during rainy season.

The housing project is located in Barangay 412, Zone 42 in Sampaloc, and at the corner of J.P. Laurel and Legarda streets in San Miguel. Covering a total land area of 3,000 sqm, it consists of several medium rise buildings, with an average cost of P400,000 per housing unit at 16 sqm.

This kind of project is also a part of the President’s program to release P10-billion every year for the housing and relocation projects.

Estero de San Miguel: Before and after its renovation.

Estero de San Miguel: Before and after its renovation.

Mr. Ramon CF Cuervo III, a Real Estate Professional, likened this type of relocation site because it shows the need to attend to the people’s important needs in life than to make life harder for them.

He cited that the gap of rich and poor becomes wider and social injustice a mere word. The poor has been taken for granted, and there is neglect for these helpless people, since having the poor is a way of life in our society.

“It can be observed that the rights of the human persons and their dignity compromise, because they are being treated as if they were second class citizens,” he explained. “The practice of social justice is transformed to a choice, a decision whether to be generous, fair, or an obligation, duty, by merely ‘giving out from the garbage of excess’.”

“Land and wealth distribution can be achieved with the help of practice of social justice, responsibility, and government economic policy in assisting the developers and the private sectors to supply homes for the homeless,” he said.

In the other project, the LGU of Manila entered into a consortium agreement with the Manila Goldcoast Development Corporation for the Manila Bay reclamation project, thus reviving the project that was scuttled in 1991 in a bid to preserve the beauty of the bay.

The project aims to develop 148 hectares of the bay into a “business center” the southern parcel of the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road Reclamation (MCCRRP) North Sector Reclamation Project (NSRP).

Under the agreement, the project area is said to cover the southern end of Manila Bay in the city, including portions fronting the Manila Yacht Club and the Philippine Navy.

After the failed start in 1991, Goldcoast continued to follow-up over the years. In 2006, upon bestowing to Philippine Reclamation Authority the approval powers of reclamation projects, PRA reaffirmed the 1991 awarding of the project to Goldcoast.

The city council also passed Ordinance No. 8233 authorizing Lim to apply for the reclamation with the PRA and effectively repealing the ordinance banning reclamation on the Bay.

The city government only entered into the agreement with Goldcoast on the condition the city be included in the “consortium” undertaking the project and would “be given an equitable share in the reclaimed land.”

Goldcoast will fund and execute the reclamation and provide construction facilities, while the city has agreed to provide utilities, facilitate right of way, and assist in importing or exporting construction tools and even labor.

The reclamation project is facing an opposition with a group named, SOS Save Manila Bay Coalition. Inset shows the location map of Manila Bay reclamation project.

The reclamation project is facing an opposition with a group named, SOS Save Manila Bay Coalition. Inset shows the location map of Manila Bay reclamation project.

However, the reclamation project is facing an opposition with a group named, SOS Save Manila Bay Coalition who vowed to stop Goldcoast in its bid to resurrect the project and to stop the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road Reclamation- North Sector Reclamation Project (NSRP).

They are also threatening to bring the matter to the court and wage a legal battle to stop the project.

The World Wide Fund for Nature backed the coalition and said that any reclamation project is deemed to be dangerous considering the country is very prone to natural disasters due to climate change. And thus, there’s a need for science-based study of the potential impacts of the project.

This project will worsen the flooding in Manila Bay and affecting the people living near it. They maintained due to poor planning, the project creates a flood zone and thus, it will only worsen the flood problems. There’s need for a multi-sectoral study for this kind of project.

According to them, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, particularly the Environmental Management Bureau, should carefully look into its impact on the people, their health and well-being, businesses, as well as the environment, before issuing the project proponents an environmental clearance certificate (ECC).

Goldcoast broke their silence and answered their critics.

They denied the claims that the project will cover the stretch of Roxas Boulevard from the Manila Yacht Club to the United States embassy and branding the claim as part of a “disinformation campaign.”

They clarified that the project’s location is at the back of the Philippine Navy and Manila Yacht Club two kilometers towards the open sea with a frontage of less than 700 meters parallel to Roxas Boulevard. And since this is a full kilometer from the embassy and only up to the Ospital ng Maynila, neither will it be a blot on the historic allure of the bay.

Goldcoast also said that it will apply the world-class best practices and use “state-of-the-art green technology” in the project and thus, the project will not cause flooding but in fact, will reduce the occurrence of floods like other reclamation models all over the globe. They will have their own renewable power supply, recycled and treated water, and waste to energy facilities.

Goldcoast also maintained that they will not dislocate the marine ecology and human settlers in the area. “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,” Goldcoast said.

The project is believed to  spur economic activities in Manila and boost the city’s growth and development as the country’s financial center once more as Goldcoast said that it will create new commercial center and the first international cruise ship terminal.

They already had public consultations “in the spirit of transparency (and) in accordance with all pertinent national and local laws.”

With sources from: Business Mirror, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star

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