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Wanted: A new capital

Saying Metro Manila had lost its luster as a national capital and could hardly keep up with the demands of modern living, a senator is seeking the creation of a commission that will study the possible relocation of the country’s seat of power.

“Lamentably, Metro Manila is a capital which could hardly stand proud in the ranks of national capitals around the world,” Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said in his Senate Bill No. 655.

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“It is therefore imperative for Congress to create a National Capital Commission (NPC) to comprehensively study the potential of relocating and transferring the national capital and permanent seat of the national government from the City of Manila and the National Capital Region,” he added.

Earlier call from MMDA chairman

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Trillanes’ suggestion echoed that made last year by Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chair Francis Tolentino, who pointed to Tanay, Rizal province or the area covered by the towns of San Rafael, San Ildefonso and Doña Remedios in Bulacan province as alternative locations.

Tolentino, who even wrote a book on his proposed “showcase city,” stressed that “we cannot plan for Metro Manila on a clean slate because of accumulated historical biases, among other things. It has already reached its carrying capacity.”

According to the Trillanes bill, the NPC may be composed of three commissioners, who will be appointed by the President, and a secretariat that will provide technical and administrative assistance to the commission.

“The relocation of a nation’s capital and government center is a monumental task. National capitals occupy a commanding position in the stature and development of nations. They are the visible symbols of national pride and a defining vehicle for national progress,” Trillanes said.

Little space left for dev’t

“Since 1976, the city of Manila and the NCR have been the seat of the national government. Unfortunately, decades henceforth, lack of urban planning as manifested by antiquated drainage systems, degraded air quality, faulty traffic management, and proliferation of illegal settlers make Metro Manila a place with only little space for development,” he added.

“A well-planned capital and government center is one which combines functionality and aesthetics. It promotes a more efficient government operation, encourages economic buoyancy in a seemingly underdeveloped region, and stands as a testament to the unique heritage of a nation,” he added.

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Trillanes cited the Australian city of Canberra as an example used by many emerging nations in the post-World War II period. An international competition was even held to design this new capital city, he noted.

He also cited Brasilia, which he said experienced rapid growth after its establishment as Brazil’s capital in 1961.

The senator’s bill came at a time when the MMDA and local governments in the capital are again grappling with perennial urban problems like heavy traffic, garbage, flooding and slum communities.

Metro Manila’s image also took a new blow when bestselling novelist Dan Brown described it as “the gates of hell” in his new book “Inferno,” a label which Tolentino strongly protested.

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TAGS: Antonio Trillanes IV, Legislation, Metro, Metro Manila, MMDA, Philippine capital, Philippines, Politics, Senate
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