The Philippines and the Netherlands will be working on a masterplan for the development of the Manila Bay area following the signing of a memorandum of agreement on Monday.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia signed on behalf of the Philippines while and Dutch Ambassador Marion Derckx represented the Netherlands.
The two government agreed to work together towards the formulation of the Manila Bay Sustainable Development Master Plan, which is expected to guide future decisions on programs and projects — ranging from coastal protection, waste and water resources management, transport and reclamation activities, among others — to be undertaken in the Bay area.
“We are fortunate to have the Dutch with us in this endeavor. Their extensive knowledge and experience in implementing programs and projects that protect vulnerable coastal zones are unparalleled,” Pernia said in a speech.
Derckx, meanwhile, noted that the Duterte administration has “so many plans for infrastructure and the Netherlands already has quite some experience in the Philippines in this field.”
The Netherlands, which is mostly flat with many areas below sea level, is known for having developed integrated and innovative coastal management solutions.
Preliminary activities for the master planning exercise began in 2015 when the Philippine government asked for the deployment of Dutch disaster risk reduction to conduct a scoping mission, which confirmed the need for a development and management framework for the Manila Bay area.
The findings prompted the Philippine government to appropriate P250 million under the 2017 NEDA budget and the Netherlands committed to provide at least P75 million.
Pernia said the crafting of the masterplan would take about 31 months and would include a massive clean-up effort.
“It will be cleaned up and the area will be enhanced … to bring back the old glory of the Manila Bay,” he told reporters
Derckx said slum development would also be included, noting that if “you don’t take those densely populated areas into account, the pollution of the bay will continue so that has to be taken into consideration”.
Rolando Tungpalan, undersecretary for investment programming at the National Economic and Development Authority, said the government would have to carefully consider the issue of informal settlers.
“[H]ow will you bring them alongside sustainable development in the Manila Bay? How do you address the ISFs (informal settler families) along Manila Bay?,” he asked.
“The trend right now is really mixed development where you bring … better living conditions through medium rise buildings alongside economic activities. But we would let consultants do their work to recommend to us what would be the best practice in sustainable development,” Tungpalan added.