The P42-billion land reclamation project being pushed by local officials of Bacoor City for the establishment of its would-be central business district along Manila Bay is seen to prompt the city’s much needed economic breakthrough.
Although it was met by opposition from some quarters during its public hearing last 9 January 2020, City Mayor Lani Revilla said the reclamation bid will address the perennial flooding in the city.
Revilla said the city government will integrate the project with the various long-term flood mitigating initiatives of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
She pointed out that the project will “complement” the ongoing flood control initiatives of the DPWH and create diversion channels from Imus to Bacoor City which will serve as the flood discharge system of the rainwater catchment basin of Bacoor.
The proposed reclamation islands are situated and formed with the anti-flooding projects of DPWH, having more than sufficient channels in between the islands which are aligned with existing natural river outflows.
Studies conducted by Bacoor’s private sector partners showed that the islands will also serve as anti-storm surge walls of the City.
Through Public-Private partnership, the 420-hectare reclamation projects in Bacoor City consist of a total of 320-hectare islands under Bacoor Reclamation and Development Project (BRDP) and one 100-hectare island under Diamond Reclamation and Development Project (DRDP).
Revilla said the city hopes to integrate with these projects a most effective approach to the long-term clean-up of Manila Bay as mandated by a Supreme Court continuing mandamus.
Urban expansion through massive land reclamation, also known as dump-and-fill, remains a highly contentious issue.
By expanding local territories that will translate to an increased land asset, land reclamation provides much-needed space for development projects, which include residential, commercial and industrial areas.
Activist groups, particularly fishermen, coastal dwellers and environmental groups, do not want the project because of its alleged destructive nature and potential environment, economic and sociocultural impact.
However, the local government stood firmly that their reclamation bid is the only project along Manila Bay that carries with it a program for in-city relocation and resettlement of Informal Settler Families (ISF) living along the 10 coastal barangays.
“We see that the rehabilitation of Manila Bay is not successful under the previous administrations. We learned from our previous experiences with the national government in dealing with the Manila Bay,” Revilla said.
She noted that after over six years of continued effort and expenditure of more than P50 billion, the problem of Manila Bay pollution has yet to be sufficiently addressed.
“This reclamation project is seen to provide long-term solutions especially in the Cavitex area,” she said.
Revilla pointed out that the city is readying two resettlement sites for the ISF and fishermen living along with coastal areas who would be affected by the reclamation projects.
One of the resettlement sites is a property in Molino II that would be called Ciudad Kaunlaran, where medium-rise buildings will be constructed with basic facilities and livelihood support programs.
A government center with social services will also be established within the site.
Among the target beneficiaries for Ciudad Kaunlaran are ISF from 10 barangays of Bacoor who would be affected by the project.
Likewise, properties in Barangay Alima would be transformed into a Fisherman’s Village for the resettlement of fishermen living along the coastlines of Bacoor Bay. The relocation site would still allow fishermen to ply their trade while a wharf with berthing facility will be constructed for their use.
She also pointed out that the relocation program would be conducted under the Community-based Initiative Approach of the National Housing Authority (NHA), which calls for the participation of the affected ISF in the planning stage.
The reclamation projects, Revilla said, will transform Bacoor into a new center of growth in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s vision to decongest Metro Manila and spread development to other parts of the country.
Official data showed that as much as 73 percent of Bacoor’s available land space is already devoted to residential use and only about two percent utilized for commercial purposes.
On the other hand, the agri-fishery areas — covering all rice lands, other productive agricultural lands, and water bodies or fishpond — have shrunk to a total area of 410 hectares, or a mere 6.61 percent of the total land area of Bacoor.
Based on the 2015 census, the city’s population density is at 13,009 per square kilometers or a total of about 600,609 individuals.
If the trend continues, it is projected that Bacoor’s population will double its size by 2025.
Once the construction of the reclamation projects starts, Revilla said about 700,000 jobs will be created.
“As such, we are starting to open free TESDA courses to our residents to prepare them for the opportunities that are expected to open,” Revilla said.
Increased revenues will also enable the city government to improve the delivery of government services, particularly through extensive use of smart technology,” she added.