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‘Reclamation project OK if…’

/ 10:09 PM November 24, 2013

A well-known architect has shrugged off criticisms that a reclamation project at Manila Bay will make the City of Manila more vulnerable to storm surges, saying the project will be OK as long as it is “planned, designed, engineered and implemented properly.”

In an interview at the weekly Fernandina forum in San Juan City last week, Jun Palafox Jr. said that reclamation projects had been done in many parts of the world without any environmental impact on communities.

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“Like Singapore. It used to be 65000 hectares; they reclaimed 6,000 ha so [it’s now] 71,000 ha. But they did it properly,” he said. He cited Hong Kong, Dubai and The Netherlands as other examples.

For any reclamation project to be done properly, Palafox, founder of Palafox Associates and one of the pioneers of green architecture and urban planning in the country, cited the importance of a study that would focus on “environmental impact and social acceptability,” not just the economic and financial aspects.

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Among the other things that could be looked into in the study was whether or not the historic Manila Bay sunset would be affected and whether there was a security threat to the embassies in the area.

Last week, representatives of Manila Goldcoast Development Corp. presented their proposal to reclaim land by the bay in a public hearing, saying 5-meter-high walls would be erected to stop any killer wave should a typhoon of “Yolanda’s” magnitude hit the city. Instead of a seawall though, Palafox reiterated his proposal for a “bay bridge” or “tunnel” at the mouth of Manila Bay.

The structure, he said, could serve as a “wave breaker” that would also connect Bataan and Cavite.

He added that the reclamation should be like the one done in Dubai, where a gap was made between the “mainland and islands.”

In 1993, the city council approved Ordinance No. 7777 which prohibited any reclamation activity in the bay near the city.

However, it was repealed by Ordinance No. 8233 which gave then-Mayor Alfredo Lim the authority to enter into a contract with Manila Goldcoast Development Corp. for the reclamation of the bay’s 148 ha.

A resolution was subsequently filed by Councilor Ali Atienza, calling for the restoration of the ban. His father, former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza who was Lim’s predecessor, had upheld the ban during his three terms in office.

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TAGS: Jun Palafox, Metro, News, reclamation controversy
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