Reclamation in Manila Bay
THE Reclamation of Manila Bay has been talked about for many years now. It is made up many projects—at various stages of conceptualizations and even implementations—covering more than 600 hectares stretching to several cities and provinces along the Manila Bay area. One thing that many observed is the lack of transparency and consultation with the stakeholders, especially the people to be affected by the projects, such the small fisher folks, the farmers, and the residents along the shores of the bay. The small fisher folks will be displaced and their livelihood affected. I do not know if they are being considered by the government which is supposed to protect them.
Reclamation projects are very expensive and so the partners are the big businesses and even multinational foreign groups. In such projects therefore the ones who will benefit are the rich and the powerful. These are not done for the good of the ordinary people. The benefit to the ordinary people will just be the trickle-down effect, which is using the sweat of the ordinary common workers to bring profit to the rich.
To reclaim the sea means that a lot of filling materials will be used at a massive scale. Where will the land come from? Either from the sea bed or from the land. In both cases the ecological balance of the sea and the land will be altered. Remember, we are speaking of more 600 hectares of reclaimed lands! Reclamation projects are not environmental neutral. They bring damage to the environment. And again who will suffer? The poor farmers, the poor fisher folks, and the ordinary dwellers in those areas where the materials are to be taken from. The massive displacement of land will affect many people and their livelihood.
There are many complains about Imperial Manila, that is, that Metro Manila is syphoning the development projects and the money of the whole country, and decisions are being done here, and mostly, just for the good of Metro Manila. In fact this is one argument that those who support federalism are bringing forth. They want to spread development also to the other parts of the country so they clamor for spreading projects outside of Manila. They want to take away political and business control from Manila. Are the reclamation projects around Manila Bay promoting Imperial Manila? Yes, if business wants contiguous large track of lands for their projects, they can no longer get them in Metro Manila. But there are large tracks of lands in the provinces. Why not spend their billions and trillions to invest in those places, thus spread out development more evenly to other areas? By approving these projects the government is sending out a discordant signal with its criticism of Imperial Manila!
Concentrating development to Metro Manila is not good, not only to the other provinces, but also to the people of the Metropolis themselves. The massive structures and businesses that will be set up will attract more people to Metro Manila. This in turn will add up to the population congestion, resulting to more traffic, more garbage, and more pollution! It can even result to more flooding.
People are expecting the Big One—the massive earthquake that Manila and its surroundings experience every 400 years or so. It can come any time. Underground movements of the earth can trigger liquefaction, especially in areas where the earth is not that compact. What damage liquefaction will do to reclaimed areas is not studied that thoroughly. Should not this be a big reason to move the projects to safer grounds?
There are so many apprehensions about the big scale reclamation projects along Manila Bay. These should be properly addressed and explained to the people. We do not want just any kind of development, especially aggressive development that is being forced down the throat of the public, a development pushed only by big business interests with the nod of a government which is not concerned with long term effects to the ordinary people and to the environment. We want to know and be assured! The above concerns are to be addressed!