Mayor Estrada promise of Manila Zoo rehab on hold
The rehabilitation of Manila Zoo, one of the earliest projects promised by Mayor Joseph Estrada in 2013, is on hold until further notice as the city council has yet to review, approve and ratify the proposed joint venture agreement (JVA) submitted by a local firm.
This was according to Manila Public Recreations Bureau (PRB) Director James Albert Dichaves in response to recent queries about the zoo’s upgrade, which many visitors assumed to be already in progress.
“I’ve received letters from concerned citizens [who] came here expecting that the zoo has already been fixed. I’ve also read on social media comments that the city has already shelled out money for this project,” Dichaves told the Inquirer in an interview earlier this week.
“I’d like to clarify that the local government has not released a single centavo; it is a JVA and funding will all come from the private firm,” he said, referring to Metropolitan Zoo and Botanical Garden Inc.
Councilor Joel Chua, vice chair of the city council’s committee on laws, said on Tuesday that they were not satisfied with the company’s presentation and had asked it to improve a few provisions.
“Of course, we want to scrutinize everything as Manila Zoo is one of the city’s gems,” he said. The presentation was reviewed by the committee about two months ago and another meeting has yet to be set.
Mayor Estrada announced the prospective signing of the P1.5-billion JVA in May last year. Dichaves said it would entail a complete overhaul and modernization of the zoo, primarily to put up better enclosures for the animals.
The PRB would have discretion over the zoo’s management, especially concerning the importation of animals and ensuring discounts for Manileños, he said.
Dichaves added that zoo operations would not stop even with the start of the rehabilitation works, which would be done in six phases and could take one-and-a-half to two years.
“There are areas with no animals now; we’ll transfer them there first while construction is ongoing in other parts,” he said.
Asked if the public could expect a new zoo that would look like Singapore’s, Dichaves replied: “Yes and no.”
“Yes, when it comes to the improvement of the animals habitats; but when it comes to space, no, because our area is limited. We can’t expand anymore,” he said.
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