MCDP-III (Part 1)

STREETLIFE - Nigel Paul Villarete - The Freeman

The third phase of the Metro Cebu Development Project, or MCDP-III is the most ambitious and expansive project Cebu City ever had, or any other Philippine city ever pursued for that matter, as it literally changed the face of the city overnight and amended the map in a matter of three years. Try looking at Metro Cebu on Google Earth at a 25-kilometer elevation and you will see only two distinctly recognizable man-made features on the earth’s surface --the South Road Properties (SRP), and the airfield of Mactan airport. You can also trace the outline of the Cebu South Coastal Road (CSCR).

These two --the SRP and the CSCR-- are the two components of MCDP-III, though when it was proposed and implemented, SRP simply meant South Reclamation Project. MCDP-III was a successor project to MCDP-I and MCDP-II and at the time of its submission to NEDA in 1991 was at first composed of 21 road links plus a reclamation study. The NEDA Board deferred approval of the project and asked that a master plan be first drawn instead. The study was eventually funded through the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF, now simply called JICA) --13th Yen Loan Package but strangely proceeded as the Cebu Integrated Area Development Master Plan Study (CIADMPS).

To its credit, CIADMPS was a very good plan and would have served the province immensely. It didn’t take off and faded to people’s obliviousness. Strange things happen in project development in this country, so while CIADMPS was done to justify MCDP-III, it didn’t and couldn’t since it covered the province instead of Metro Cebu. More strangely, the NEDA Board didn’t consider it and simply approved MCDP-III in 1993 and submitted it to OECF/JICA under the 17th Yen Loan Package. And instead of 21 roads and a reclamation, only three projects were approved --the South Reclamation Project, the South Coastal Road, and the Cebu Urban Circumferential Road. OECF approved the funding but sans the circumferential road inasmuch as doing so would have made the entire package more than half OECF’s annual assistance to the Philippines, which people in Manila wouldn’t want to do.

This was the shift MCDP turned to from the previous two phases from a shotgun approach of multiple projects composed of road links across the metropolis and an assorted package of public infrastructure --bus terminals and public markets, to an intentional new urban development-- new land in the southern part of Cebu City plus an expressway to connect the areas south of the city to the center as well as to Mactan Island and the airport.

It is worth noting former Mayor Osmeña succeeded in making OECF break one of its own prevailing tenets at that time, i.e. not funding stand-alone reclamation projects except when essential part of another infrastructure like that of a port or an airport. The two components accomplished something nothing ever happened before --it changed the face of Cebu City and Metro Cebu on the map. You wouldn’t know it if you’re 20 years old or younger, but those of us who’re older would remember it was just plain sea out there. And no expressway.

To be continued

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