Sunset on Manila Bay is a spectacular experience, and is free for all to enjoy. But not for long, if developers have their way.
Manila Bay, covering the areas of Manila, Pasay, and Parañaque was reserved for the purposes of a national park under Proclamation No. 41 in 1954 by President Ramon Magsaysay, to be known as the Manila Bay Beach Resort. Republic Act No. 7586 issued in 1992, recognized the value of having a national park in the Manila Bay area and included it in the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992 notwithstanding the fact that portions of the Bay area of Pasay and Parañaque had already been reclaimed. Manila Bay should be among the areas considered as a protected landscape and seascape of national significance which is characterized by the harmonious interaction of man and land while providing opportunities for public enjoyment through recreation and tourism within the normal lifestyle and economic activity of these land areas.
In 1992, a group called the Manila Goldcoast Development Corporation lobbied for approval to reclaim the entire Manila Bay waterfront along Roxas Boulevard, between the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the US Embassy. This scheme was challenged by citizens, who fought to preserve the last remaining access to the bay along Manila's historical district. The citizens won. The Manila City Council passed City Ordinance No. 7777, prohibiting reclamation in this area.
However, Goldcoast was, tragically, able to get City Ordinance No. 7777 repealed. In February 2011, City Ordinance No. 8233 reversed the prohibition. A consortium agreement was signed in April 2012 to reclaim land in Manila Bay without a genuine consultation with the people, and in apparent contradiction with Republic Act No. 7586. The new reclamation being proposed will total 148 hectares covering three islands beside the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
No aspect of this scheme will improve the City of Manila in any discernible way — it is all for the profit of a few individuals.
We must act to protest this reclamation and prevent further destruction and loss of our heritage. We will stop them again.
The National Historical Commission of the Philippines issued Resolution No. 19, series of 2012, declaring the Manila Bay and Waterfront from Del Pan Bridge to the Cultural Center of the Philippines on Roxas Boulevard as a National Historical Landmark, and is thus protected by Republic Act No. 10066, or the “National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009” and Republic Act No. 10086, or the "Strengthening Peoples' Nationalism Through Philippine History Act"
The area of Manila Bay along the historic districts of Ermita, Malate and Intramuros have been important culture, art and tourism destinations whose potential should be maximized along what other great cities have done for their waterfront and historical districts and improved rather than destroyed. In fact, the Philippine Tour Operators Association has launched a campaign to make Manila the center of culture, arts and recreation with our heritage landmarks, open parks, the boulevard, and the Manila Bay sunset at the forefront
But this is not just about the sunset. We all know that the present aggressive development of the area cannot be supported by the existing infrastructure, and extreme pressure is being placed on already inadequate water and power supply, traffic, sewage and sanitation — problems so far not solved, which can only worsen with reclamation. Add the fact that the excessive groundwater extraction brought about by the growing population of Manila has caused the lowering of the land surface by several centimeters to more than a decimeter a year in the areas of Ermita, Malate and Intramuros. And the said lowering of the land level is causing floods to worsen year by year, and any reclamation made would be built at a higher grade causing rainwater to flow back into an already flood-prone area, destroying the already fragile ecological balance.
The coastal areas along the Manila Bay are at highest risk for liquefaction in earthquake scenarios. The Philippines also suffers from a geographic disadvantage because it is one of the countries in the world which experiences the highest rate of sea level rise and any physical changes in the coastline will affect the way weather systems form, approach and behave on land.
It is thus extremely important for all stakeholders to understand how these reclamation plans will impact our human communities, coastal and marine geology, biodiversity, heritage structures, and climate change. No doubt, the planned reclamation of Manila Bay and the planned development of the area will directly affect the entire community made up of residents, businesses, tourism establishments, cultural heritage centers, and the Filipino people, and will destroy all hopes of making Manila the center of culture, arts, recreation, and tourism.
We call on the City Council of Manila to repeal City Ordinance No. 8233 and restore City Ordinance No. 7777. We call on the Philippine government, particularly the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Philippine Reclamation Authority to stop the planned and future reclamation of Manila Bay between the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the U. S. Embassy, even if it is built away from the waterfront itself. We call for the cancelation of the contract between the Manila City government and the Manila Goldcoast Development Corporation which violates national laws. And we ask the concerned government agencies to enact a master plan that maximizes the opportunities and potential of the waterfront for the enjoyment of the people.
Save Manila Bay! No to reclamation!