Bacoor reclamation projects draw support

The proposed 420-hectare reclamation projects in Bacoor City earned overwhelming support from directly-impacted stakeholders during the public hearing conducted by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Jan. 9, which is part of the Environmental Impact Assessment System as mandated by Presidential Decree 1586 and DENR Administrative Order No. 2003-30.

The twin reclamation projects of the Bacoor City government are the Bacoor Reclamation and Development Project (BRDP) that consist of 320-hectare islands, and the Diamond Reclamation and Development Project (DRDP) consisting of one 100-hectare island via Public-Private Partnership under the PPP Code of Bacoor.

The city hopes to integrate in these two projects a most effective approach to the long-term clean-up of Manila Bay as mandated by a Supreme Court's (SC) continuing mandamus, being the only projects along the Manila Bay that carry with it a program for relocation and resettlement of Informal Settler Families (ISFs) living along the ten coastal barangays.

According to Bacoor City Mayor Lani M. Revilla, the proposed projects will also address flooding in the city as she made sure they are integrated with the various long-term flood mitigating projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The Flood Risk Management Project of the DPWH will improve river channels and create diversion channels from Imus to Bacoor City that will serve as the flood discharge system of the rainwater catchment basin of Bacoor in Buhay na Tubig.

The proposed reclamation islands are so situated and formed as to conform with the anti-flooding projects of DPWH, having more than sufficient channels in between the islands which are aligned with existing natural river outflows. The studies conducted by the private sector partners of the city show that the islands will also serve as anti-storm surge walls of the City.

Among the sectors represented in the public hearing were the concerned barangay officials, fisherfolk, Informal Settler Families (ISFs), student leaders, mussel and oyster farmers, businessmen, environmental groups, and other concerned government agencies.

The fishermen are most satisfied with the proposed Fisherman's Village in Barangay Alima which is also part of the proposed reclamation projects in order to make sure that they will not be displaced from their industry.

The proposed projects are expected to uplift their living conditions with the establishment of the Fisherman's Wharf along Sineguelasan coasts which will also develop and preserve the 40-hectare mangroves plantation of the city.

Sa mga sinabi po ng opisyales ng Bacoor na kami ay hindi maiiwan, bagkus ay mabibiyayaan kami po ay lubos na natutuwa at nagpapasalamat (We are very thankful for this projects because we are not left out), said Cherielyn Espiritu, leader of the League of Modern and Responsible Women composed of female residents living along the city's coastal areas.

One of the stakeholders also expressed gratitude to the city government for holding the public hearing to address their concerns, noting they were never consulted for a similar project in the past, which is the construction of the Cavitex road.

In-city relocation

The projects are expected to boost the city government's on-going relocation program for the concerned coastal residents and hasten its compliance with the SC mandamus for Manila Bay clean up.

It may be recalled that in 2008, the SC issued a continuing mandamus, directing the DENR and several other government agencies to clean up, rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay, and restore and maintain its waters to make them fit for swimming, skin-diving, and other forms of contact recreation.

The SC specifically ordered the DENR to fully implement its Operational Plan for the Manila Bay Coastal Strategy (OPMBCS) which includes the reduction of illegal settlers, establishments and structures along coastlines and prevent future occupation of these shorelines.

Nakita po natin na hindi naging matagumpay ang rehabilitation ng Manila Bay sa nakaraang administrasyon. Natuto na po tayo sa mga naging karanasan ng national government sa kaso ng Manila Bay (We already learned a lesson from the experience of Manila Bay . We saw that the rehabilitation had not been successful), said Revilla, noting that after more than six years of continued effort and expenditure of more than P50 billion, the problem of Manila Bay pollution has yet to be sufficiently addressed.

She added that they see that reclamation is the best long-term solution in Cavitex and that the city is readying two resettlement sites for the ISFs and fishermen living along coastal areas who would be affected by the reclamation projects.

Masasabi natin na ito ay isa sa mga iilang reclamation projects sa Pilipinas na may in-city relocation (We can say that this is among the reclamation projects in the country with in-city relocation), Revilla assured BacooreAos.

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 ISFs from 10 barangays of Bacoor who would be affected by the project.

Properties in Barangay Alima will also 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.

The relocation program, she added, will be conducted under the Community-based Initiative Approach of the National Housing Authority (NHA), which calls for the participation of the affected ISFs in the planning stage.

New metropolis in the offing

Revilla said Bacoor will soon be transformed into a new center of growth in line with President Rodrigo Duterte's vision to decongest Metro Manila and spread development to other areas of the country.

Reclamation ang nakikitang tugon para sa pangangailangan natin ng karagdagang lupain upang isulong and pag-unlad ng ating lungsod. Matutugunan ang lumalaking populasyon at mapabubuti ang kalagayan ng ating mga mamamayan (She added that reclamation is the prudent, sustainable, and viable solution to effectively address Bacoor's critical need for available land necessary to cope with economic stagnation and provide additional space for residential and commercial purposes), she said.

Official data shows that as much as 73 percent of Bacoor's available land space is already devoted to residential use, with only about 2 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 fishponds -- 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.

Revilla said the projects will attract new investments and businesses in the mixed-use zone for residential, leisure, commercial and education and technology hubs. Moreover, the twin projects will enhance the city's potential as a tourist attraction and increase its income from eco-tourism activities.

With the establishment of business hotels in the reclamation area and their operation, Bacoor is projected to earn an additional P1.8 billion in revenues from tourism activities alone.

The reclamation projects are likewise expected to boost productivity and efficiency for economic enterprises and open new business and livelihood opportunities.

Sisigla ang negosyo at magkakaroon ng aabot sa 700,000 na mga bagong trabaho para sa mga taga-Bacoor at mga karatig-lugar. Kaya ngayon pa lang ay nagbukas na kami ng mga libreng kurso sa aming TESDA Center upang maging handa ang BacooreAo para sa mga kakailanganin at mabubuksang oportunidad (Businesses will be vibrant that will generate 700,000 jobs() Revilla said.

Increased revenues, she said, will also enable the city government to improve the delivery of government services, particularly through extensive use of smart technology.

The reclamation projects will also provide much-needed high-quality landscape and public open space, or parks and playgrounds for the people of Bacoor, which currently has no public green space and development large enough to become the center of urban outdoor activities for its residents.

Support flood-control infra

Designed with deep channels and waterways for the efficient flow of water to the sea, and complement the anti-flood measures being implemented by the national government, the projects are necessary because Bacoor is currently the catch-basin of the Province of Cavite and naturally prone to flooding, the study said.

These channels will serve as outlets of the government flood-control infrastructures aided with the most advanced technology with the least inconvenience to the public.

Elevated and equipped with wave deflectors at the banks, the reclamation would likewise serve as an integral part of the city's coastal defense that would shield it and adjacent areas from the threat of storm surge. The reclamation islands inside Cavitex road also complement the Bacoor Diversion Road project of the DPWH as this structure and the islands will also serve to block the influx of high tide waters into the often-inundated areas along the coastal barangays of Talaba 2, Maliksi 1 and 3 and Digman.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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