Property values soar at Bulacan airport site as construction nears
BULAKAN, Bulacan, Philippines — Property values of abandoned farms and fishponds in this town have skyrocketed even before work on San Miguel Corporation (SMC)’s P734-billion New Manila International Airport begins, according to residents and local officials.
Real estate brokers have offered to buy lands outside the 2,500-hectare project site for as much as P15,000 per square meter.
The town government had raised the real market value of Bulakan lands from P230 to P350 per sq m to P400 to P700 last year, but local assessors had been made aware of brokers who had been knocking on doors, offering to buy lands near the airport project.
Work on the project is scheduled to start in December. SMC will also develop an aerotropolis, or a modern city that will accommodate workers and downstream industries of the new airport.
“Every day from Monday to Saturday, we see people coming to buy lands they intend to resell to the airport developer,” said Cornelia Picache, 69, a tenant of a farmland at Barangay Bambang. Picache said her family tilled the land for 40 years.
She said her fellow tenants had encountered people now claiming they owned Bulakan lands, hoping for a windfall from the airport deal.
A member of a clan, which owns lands being eyed for the airport expansion, said the offers were tempting.
“We want to sell. If that means a road will be built through our houses that will be fine as long as they pay our asking price. We want to leave because living beside a noisy airport may not suit us,” said the source, who asked not to be identified in the story.
Fernando Pinon dela Cruz, a literary arts professor at the Bulacan State University, said he also heard about a mad race to buy lands in Bulakan.
But he said he would never agree to sell his family farm. “We grew up planting and harvesting string beans and vegetables in our farm. We rode bicycles in these fields that used to be our playground. We won’t let all these memories disappear,” he said.
Daisy Carreon, 58, who owns a sari-sari store, said her neighborhood used to get a living from the farms and fishponds but these had become unproductive after 30 years.
“We couldn’t plant rice because saltwater had seeped in our fields, and grains were consumed by rats. When strong rains came, these fields were easily submerged,” she said.
When the airport contract was signed last month by SMC chair Ramon Ang and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, the developer promised to resettle 212 families, most of them fishpond caretakers, who would be displaced by the project.
Ang said they could provide money so these families could build their homes at their chosen sites, help them in their livelihood, and send their children to school.
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