Erap rejects MMDA chair’s proposal on Escolta revival
A proposal from the chief of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to create a national body to revive Escolta—once the capital’s premier commercial district—didn’t sit well with former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.
“We will oppose any move, in Congress or elsewhere, to create a national government body to be in charge of Escolta,” Estrada said in a statement Friday.
“This is just like dismembering the city of Manila even further,” Estrada said, noting that the national government had already taken over key sites of the city over the last decades.
The mayor cited the Philippine Ports Authority being in charge of the Manila port area, the Intramuros Administration overseeing the historic Walled City, and the National Parks Development Committee managing Rizal Park.
Estrada also cited the Metropolitan Theater, the Rizal Memorial Stadium and Muni Golf Links as other sites hosted by Manila but under the administrative control of national agencies.
Up until the 1960s, Escolta, a street in downtown Binondo, served as the country’s main business and commercial strip, home of the trendiest shops and earliest high-rise structures, including one that housed the Manila Stock Exchange. It has since lagged behind in development, giving way to urban blight, with the rise of new trading hubs in other cities, notably Makati.
But following the MMDA’s revival of the Pasig River ferry system last month, and with Escolta being one of its stops, MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino proposed the creation of the Escolta Redevelopment Administration.
Tolentino broached the idea following a meeting with heritage conservation groups, whose main worries include the demolition of old buildings in Manila.
But a disapproving Estrada said Escolta is already part of a local government plan to rehabilitate Binondo, which City Hall unveiled during the Chinese New Year celebration.
Meanwhile, Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno said the city council would pass a resolution opposing any move to change Escolta that is inconsistent with the city’s master plan.
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