Smart, sustainable areas soon to rise
HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes (The Philippine Star) - January 25, 2020 - 12:00am

The city government of Bacoor is pursuing two reclamation projects which not only aims to transform the city into a new center of growth, but also to decongest Metro Manila and to help in the long-term clean-up of Manila Bay.

The two projects are the Bacoor Reclamation and Development Project (BRDP) covering 320 hectares and the Diamond Reclamation and Development Project consisting of 100 hectares.

According to Bacoor City Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla, the reclamation projects include a component that would not only help in the long-term clean-up of Manila via the relocation and resettlement of informal settler families living along the 10 coastal barangays, but would also address flooding in the city.

Mercado said the proposed projects would be integrated with various long-term flood mitigating projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways.

During a recent public hearing conducted as part of the environmental impact assessment system, the mayor explained that the reclamation projects which are designed with deep channels and waterways for the efficient flow of water into the sea complement the anti-flood measures being implemented by the national government. Bacoor, being the catch basin of the Cavite province, is naturally prone to flooding. The proposed channels would serve as outlets of the government flood-control infrastructures aided with the most advanced technology with the least inconvenience to the public.

It was emphasized that elevated and equipped with wave deflectors at the banks, the reclamation would also serve as an integral part of the city’s coastal defense that would shield it and adjacent areas from storm surges. Mercado said that studies conducted by the private sector partners of the city have shown that the reclamation islands would serve as anti-storm surge walls of the city.

The reclamation projects call for the creation of two resettlement sites for informal settlers and fishermen living along coastal areas who would be affected by the proposed projects. One of these sites is Ciudad Kaunlaran located in Molino II where medium-rise buildings will be constructed with basic facilities, a government center with social services, and livelihood support programs. Meanwhile, properties in Barangay Alima will be transformed into a fisherman’s village for the resettlement of fishermen along the coastlines of Bacoor Bay. A wharf with berthing facility will be constructed for the use of the fishermen who will still be allowed to fish in the new site.

If things go as planned, the reclamation projects will attract new investments and businesses in the mixed-use zone for residential, leisure, commercial and education and technology hubs. Revilla said that with the establishment of business hotels in the reclamation area, Bacoor is projected to earn an additional P1.8 billion in revenues from tourism activities alone.

The proposed reclamation projects have received support from various sectors. In a resolution, the Bacoor City Liga ng mga Barangay expressed support for the proposed reclamation projects.

The resolution noted that Bacoor City has limited land for its rapidly growing population and for the expansion of commercial development and this limitation is detrimental to its economic growth. New lands, it said, are necessary to create more job and business opportunities for the locals.

Barangay leaders said  the Bacoor city government and its private partner in the proposed reclamation project have a concrete plan for informal settlers which may be affected, such as decent housing as relocation site within the city and priority for employment in all jobs which will be created by the project.

The Sangguniang Kabataan City Federation of Bacoor has written Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu, saying the reclamation will create jobs, career and business opportunities for the whole province of Cavite without compromising the culture and quality of fishing and the environment as a whole. It is estimated that at least 700,000 new jobs will be generated.

Once a coastal municipality with an established agri-fishery industry, Bacoor is now a city which has lost most of its agri-fishery base due to rapid growth and urbanization. Almost 73 percent of Bacoor’s land area of 4,511 hectares is now devoted to residential use. Agricultural lands and fishponds now cover only 410 hectares or 6.6 percent of the city’s total land area.

With the population of Metro Manila expected to surpass 20 million by 2025, nearby areas including Bacoor are anticipated to feel the pressure. With available land becoming more and more scarce, reclamation seems to be the only solution.

Proponents assure the reclamation projects will not adversely affect adjacent protected areas such as the Las Pinas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area and mangrove sites near the mouth of Imus River since the projects will be constructed at least 500 meters away from the LPPCHEA.

They likewise said the projects will promote inclusive sustainable growth, ensuring, among other things, that Bacoor’s famous mussel, oyster, and fisheries industry will continue to thrive with adequate mitigation measures and the city government’s aquaculture modernization program.

Also promising is the move to make the transport system within the reclamation areas very efficient. The reclaimed areas will not only have external linkages to the proposed extension of LRT-1, Cavitex, and other existing roads, but will also incorporate a comprehensive network of pedestrian-oriented pathways and facilities with provision for bicycles and other non-motorized forms of transportation.

The reclamation projects also promise world-class development since they will be engineered and designed by leading firms including Denmark’s Ramboll, UDP International, and Philippine-based AMH and will be based on the concept of a smart city framework which has three core values, namely, people, place and planet, enhanced by technology.

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