By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
The City Government of Bacoor said its proposed 420-hectare reclamation projects have earned overwhelming support from directly-impacted stakeholders during the public hearing held by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
In a statement, Bacoor City Mayor Lani M. Revilla said that Bacoor stakeholders were present during the January 9, 2020. Said public hearing is part of the Environmental Impact Assessment System as mandated by law under Presidential Decree 1586 and DENR Administrative Order No. 2003-30.
The City Government of Bacoor is the proponent of twin reclamation projects, namely Bacoor Reclamation and Development Project (BRDP), consisting of a total 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.
Revilla explained that 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 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.
“These 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),” said Revilla in a statement. The Flood Risk Management Project of the DPWH will improve river channels and create diversion channels from Imus to Bacoor City which will serve as the flood discharge system of the rainwater catchment basin of Bacoor in Buhay na Tubig.
The reclamation projects which are designed with deep channels and waterways for the efficient flow of water to the sea, complement the anti-flood measures being implemented by the national government. These are necessary because Bacoor is currently the catch-basin of the Province of Cavite and naturally prone to flooding. These channels will serve as outlets of the government flood-control infrastructures aided with the most advanced technology with 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.
“The proposed reclamation islands are so situated and formed as to conform with the antiflooding 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,” she said.
Among the sectors represented in the public hearing were the concerned barangay officials, the 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.
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 could be recalled that in 2008, the SC issued a continuing mandamus, directing the Department of Environment and Natural Resources 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.
Specifically, for the DENR, the Court ordered the full implementation of its Operational Plan for the Manila Bay Coastal Strategy (OPMBCS), which includes the reduction of illegal settlers, establishments and structures along coast lines and prevent future occupation of these shorelines.
Part of the project is the creation of two resettlement sites for the ISFs and fishermen living along 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 ISFs 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 ISFs in the planning stage.
With the reclamation projects, 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.
She said 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 noted 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 also claimed that 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.