Another Aquino Legacy: The Death of Manila Bay Reclamation By Religion and Pseudo-Environmentalism?

A Fitting Testament To Myopic, Parochial, and Political Economy Based National Planning

san miguel beer iba ang may pinagsamahanAccording to the grape vine, all plans to add to or expand the reclaimed area in Manila Bay seems to be ‘dead in the water’ — literally.

I didn’t believe the pronouncements of the demise of any and all Manila Bay reclamation projects seriously a few months ago, but now, it seems quite clear that this might be the case.  The corporations who first fielded proposals in 2011 and 2012 have begun quieting down, a complete turn around from their loud and upbeat attitude when the projects were brought up.

Notwithstanding the bold pronouncements of the Philippine Roman Catholic Church of its virtual success at stopping reclamation on the strength of “legal, moral, and scientific” grounds.

Last year, Tagle, his predecessor Gaudencio Rosales and 20 other bishops expressed “deep reservations” over plans to reclaim portions of Manila Bay for 38 real estate projects, saying that similar reclamation projects “had resulted in disastrous flooding, especially in Las Piñas, Parañaque, Malabon, Navotas and some cities and towns in Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan and Pampanga.”

For an organization that doesn’t pay income taxes for any of its properties or commercial activities, it seems it has the power to dictate on the country’s government officials.

Thing is, except for San Miguel Corporation’s proposed $10 Billion airport to be built on 1,600 hectares on newly reclaimed land in Manila Bay, there is almost no more news of the proposed reclamation projects of SM and Manila Goldcoast Development Corporation these days.

It didn’t help that, almost at first mention, the proposed projects of SM and Manila Goldcoast were shot down with the more or less same groups of people being at the lead with the addition of so-called Filipino social media ‘thought leaders’.

One group that figured consistently in opposing new and revived reclamation projects is Pamalakaya, a leftist backed subsistence fisherfolk organization which figured prominently during the days of the PEA-AMARI-FILINVEST scandal. Of the groups opposed to reclamation, I figure, it’s Pamalakaya that may actually have a stake in the talks because their members are actually informal settlers on reclaimed land and argue if you must for the scrapping of the Lina Law, they’re stakeholders in any development that may cause their eviction.

Then again, as usual, there’s the idea that these “subsistence fisherfolk” might be just pawns in a bigger game and they’re easy enough to deploy along with impressionable/gullible students to picket against reclamation projects that would:

1. Block the Historic Manila Bay Sunset. A claim easily debunked using SUNCALC, which is an online web-based map you can use to see where the sun sets at any given time of year in any location on earth.

2. Cause Massive Flooding. Another claim debunked merely by showing the proposed plans and locations of the proposed reclamation sites. Like San Miguel Corporation’s proposed $10 Billion Airport that would reclaim 1,600 hectares from Manila Bay, the Manila Goldcoast Development Corporation’s 148 hectare reclamation project would not block waterways that drain flood waters into Manila Bay because it would be (A) far away from such waterways and (B) would have wide channels separating it from the shore.

3. Create A Bowl Effect. Nevermind that according to most articles on the topic the so-called bowl effect actually happens in inland areas reclaimed from marshland that is actually below sea level and which the Manila Bay area is not.

4. Reclaimed Areas Are Vulnerable to Liquefaction. A claim which ignores the fact that NO LIQUEFACTION occurred in the old Manila Bay reclamation area and along the Roxas Boulevard (which most people don’t realize is RECLAIMED LAND) during the 7.8 magnitude 1990 earthquake that shook up a great part of Luzon. As renowned architect Jun Palafox said, as long as reclaimed areas are done right, liquefaction shouldn’t be a concern.  Considering the advances in land reclamation technology, the threat of liquefaction is something that is answered by ENGINEERING.

5. Worsen Storm Surges. This claim is actually the exact opposite of what’s going to happen if all of the planned 26,000 hectares Manila Bay reclamation is realized. If the reclaimed areas are built higher than the highest recorded waves in Manila Bay, it would actually help prevent those waves from bringing water inland by acting as a BARRIER or DIKE, possibly preventing Manila Bay’s waters from flooding stretches of Pasay Taft Avenue.

President-Aquino-and-SMC-head-Ramon-AngNow, here is the question that’s bugging me.

If these so-called scientific basis for opposing reclamation is true for SM and Manila Goldcoast, why isn’t it true for San Miguel Corporation’s proposed airport project?

IBA BA ANG MAY PINAGSAMAHAN?

Could all other reclamation projects have been stalled to give San Miguel Corporation certain advantages? The chief one being the only company to get its reclamation project off the ground.

Nevermind that it’s regulatory capture of the power sector was outed only recently in Ellen Tordesilla’s article on Zenaida Ducut.

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Post Author: Paul Farol

Try not to take me too seriously.

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14 Comments on "Another Aquino Legacy: The Death of Manila Bay Reclamation By Religion and Pseudo-Environmentalism?"

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Dick S. O'Rosary
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I think in another article on this site, it was mentioned that some real estate developers were opposed to the project because it would increase land area and make property cheaper in Manila. Its really a shame. What Filipinos need are really these big projects that involve a lot of engineering and innovation before we can really say: “proud to be pinoy!”

twisky
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Please don’t mention reknowned and jun palafox in the same sentence, he’s made of the same cloth as the politicians that GRP lambasts. Worse, as he commands his claim to fame on slaves who invest 7 years of their lives devoting to their craft. But this isn’t the place. Second; reclamation has a long term effect on the land around. I don’t deny that the correct procedure will stop liquefaction, but to eat up a natural harbor little by little has dire consequences. If you need an example, look at Victoria Harbour of HK that urban planners all over the… Read more »
Dick S. O'Rosary
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I for one think that the reclamation is a good idea. Manila bay is so big i can’t see how it can cause an eating up of Manila’s natural harbor. Manila is fairly secure against storm surges and tsunamis thanks to corregidor, whatever storm surges that do come out to batter the metropolis can be dissipated by the reclamation. Of course reclaimed land will require constant surveillance and maintenance–that goes for every structure built by man save the pyramids. Anyone who thinks that one can just reclaim from the sea and then just leave it as is is foolish. And… Read more »
Dick S. O'Rosary
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I forgot to add that yes, the project would kill the north and south piers but then again, they should be killed off and move our container traffic to Batangas and Subic. The Manila Port can just service foodstuffs and perishable commodities.

Paul Farol (@paulfarol)
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Actually, I came across a UP study on the continued viability of the Manila Piers and it doesn’t look good at all.

I’ll share it here in my next post.

twisky
Guest
I forget that the circles of architecture and construction are tiny isolated islands, and my intent was not to diminish but to state fact in my own industry. I suppose it is our own fault that we actually have ethics in place so that beyond a few pointed barbs here or there, we don’t like destroying anybody’s reputation, because as I said, our circles are small enough. But just a few rebuttals. Fact – that man will never have a sy or ayala project again— not after rounds of legalities involving corruption and breaking of contracts. Another one — the… Read more »
Paul Farol (@paulfarol)
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I just mentioned Palafox because he was the more vocal and more accessible authority/expert on the matter. As for your contention against reclamation on the bay, mainly that it won’t stop at a few hundred or thousand hectares and it will effectively choke it… That essentially saying that we shouldn’t venture on any idea because of imagined risks it poses. That’s exactly like saying let’s not build buildings higher than the highest fire truck ladder can reach. And the thing is, we have hundreds and hundreds of buildings higher than that… I don’t think it really bothers people to realize… Read more »
twisky
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Risks I accept— what I detest is waste; resources, economy and all. And greed. Then using architecture to perpetuate it; and making profit off an already flawed system. It’s just like a mirror of our government that is slammed here, don’t you think? I consider reclamation for Manila as unnecessary destruction of habitat– there are other solutions viable. Not as sexy as raising land out of water or whatever excuse developers tell themselves, but just as financially viable; and even more so as one does not have to spend as much. I may not be palafox but it’s not stretch… Read more »
yup
Guest

“Also, the fact that Manila is insulated against storms is geographical, that side doesn’t face open sea, and is buffered by Palawan” – buffered by Palawan? Maybe you mean Corregidor..

twisky
Guest

Correct, thanks for correcting me?I was thinking of the next big island I suppose. In any case Manila is well buffered.

Hyden Toro
Guest

They should build a good Flood Control System in Metro Manila; before any reclamation project. Those Squaters should be driven away.
They cause pollution and block the drainages and esteros. One of the causes of the floding.

Metro Manila is DELTA…it is below sea level. From this technical data…they can plan a good reclamatiuon project to accomodate the expansion of the International Airport.

However, if politics and political padrinos will taint the project again…it will surely lead to graft and corruption…and Cost Overrun…Filipino Habit in implementing a project.

yup
Guest

How about diverting the entire Pasig River delta into southern Bulacan? Just north of Camanava area. Expensive though..

Yawn
Guest

The great thing about Metro Manila is that if there’s a nuclear attack it’ll look exactly the same afterwards.

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