Re-zoning for Visayas pushed

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Residents wave to a US Navy Seahawk helicopter which dropped off relief goods in the town of Giporlos, Eastern Samar, on Saturday. Spearheaded by a US aircraft carrier group, foreign relief efforts have stepped up a gear eight days after Super Typhoon Yolanda left thousands dead and millions homeless.  AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE

Residents wave to a US Navy Seahawk helicopter which dropped off relief goods in the town of Giporlos, Eastern Samar, on Saturday. Spearheaded by a US aircraft carrier group, foreign relief efforts have stepped up a gear eight days after Super Typhoon Yolanda left thousands dead and millions homeless.
AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE

The devastation from Typhoon Yolanda in most of the Visayas and parts of Bicol, Mindoro and Palawan highlights the need for a comprehensive re-zoning plan that calls for the retrofitting of land-use laws.

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US-trained engineer Mark Sandoval told the Times on Saturday zoning and urban planning programs have to be revisited and adopted to present-day realities.

Sandoval, general manager of Ambitech Asia, one of the leading American engineering companies in the world that just set up shop in the Philippines, said the areas hardest hit by the typhoon are peninsulas surrounded by big bodies of water that are prone to tsunamis and storm surges. The houses in the peninsula, which are heavy at the base but light on the roof and lacks what Sandoval called uplifts, simply are not flood-resistant or cannot withstand savage winds like the ones whipped up by Yolanda.

Sandoval, who has been involved in the construction of high-rise buildings in the US, said the areas are not really suitable for housing or habitation but are best left as “open spaces or park.”

He said “what needs to be done in the near future is massive rezoning and review of actual easements, look at and revise the building and housing codes to make sure that people are located in safer grounds.”

“The Visayas and Mindanao don’t lack space to relocate the houses. It’s not like New York where land is very scarce and we have to make do with what we have.

There are still a lot of spaces to locate our houses and industries,” he said.

Protecting historical sites like ports, airports and churches will cost more because of the need to build super high rise surge walls.

Sandoval said 40 years ago a scientist in Japan set up wall to defend a coastal town from tsunamis. He was ridiculed for going ahead with the project but the wall save the town from the tsunami of 2010.

He said that during the Philippine Economic Society workshop last Friday, even the planning and budget secretaries downplayed the impact of the damage in Yolanda-affected areas to the country’s gross national product.

Those areas depended mainly on tourism and were not manufacturing or agriculture hubs.

Sandoval suggested that the typhoons victims be temporarily housed in tent cities while the devastated areas are rebuilt and manufacturing industries brought in to provide the victims with livelihood.

New factories can be set up in the “restored” areas located on higher and safer grounds to provide people with alternatives to fishing, farming and tourism. This way, these areas can contribute significantly to the GNP, he said.

Sandoval finished his masters in construction management in Berkeley and taught in engineering schools.

He ran his own business before joining Ambitech in the US.

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7 Comments

  1. Philippines—-Please Read & Heed! Do not look elsewhere, Listen to this man ‘A US-Trained Engineer MARK SANDOVAL and use his knowledge in rebuilding the typhoon ravaged part of this Philippine region.
    Not only his ideas will help the now and future residence of all the affected areas, to have a better habitable place, it will also help the economy, particularly “Tourism”.
    The example of the scientist in Japan 40 years ago, that built the wall and saved the town from the 2010 tsunami, is something we should emulate.
    Use all the international donations PROPERLY!

  2. I agree with the re-zoning effort which is badly needed for Tacloban to be a competitive city not just locally but also overseas. The coastal bayside areas in the city that starts from the Tacloban Park to San Fernando, San Jose all the way to the airport could be made into a grand parkway avenue with one side a walkway facing the bay and the other side business districts. This can be made the same as into the Roxas Bldv in Manila or even better. Before the super typhoon, the squatters have ruled these coastal areas. It is now a better opportunity after Yolanda to use these bayside areas to improve Tacloban not just for safety of the Filipinos but also for better pot for raising tax revenue, as these bayside areas are expensive real state properties for businesses and hotels. Example would be bayside restaurants, hotels, gift shops, and even food markets.

  3. Allan rey esmael on

    Hope all our government officials can read this and act accordingly to prevent future losses and save lives…

  4. Mr. Sandoval’s suggestion makes a whole lot of sense for the country. Question is, would someone listen?

  5. Yes, urban planning is the future for places vulnerable to calamities. Land mass without mountainous terrain facing big body of waters could be easily engulf by tsunami type disaster like of Yolanda and this area is not an ideal place for residential nor commercial but suited for park and tourist like destination that in the wake of typhoon can be easily abandon.

    We need scientific planning that include geological survey of the fault, terrain study to determine the best defense that can be constructed to minimize catastrophic effect of calamity cause by sea and earth quake. It is next to impossible to prevent mother’s nature wrath but it can be minimize by proper wall defense and zoning for people to dwell.

  6. that is what lacking in the PHL. zoning and planning. the zoning is not enforced plus the government workers like inspectors can be bribed and not serious with their jobs and duties. its a laid back country. Filipinos did this to themselves if they want to get serious just learn from the Japananese and American style of management and governance and that is enforcement enforcement and planning and planning.