The bay of our discontent

Antonio Contreras

THE members of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives drew the ire of many when they filed a resolution asking the Duterte administration to suspend the rehabilitation of Manila Bay. Cited as the main reason is that the rehabilitation is only a pretext for eventual massive reclamation projects which, they said, will benefit Dennis Uy — who in a Senate hearing admitted to being a personal friend of the President — even as it will displace thousands of poor informal settlers. In response, Malacañang through presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo defended the planned reclamation project by citing its economic benefits and the jobs that it will generate.

Malacañang and the Makabayan bloc are both missing the point.

Read on…


    (Wala kasing two-cents dito sa Pilipinas)

    The proposed reclamation of Manila Bay has long been a proposed project of several national and local government administrations. All for the sake of “modernization” and to address population growth.

    But is it good for the environment and the metropolis itself? Let me tell a story of the issue of the present-day floodings in Manila.

    Sometime in the 1990s, I attended a conference on urban development in Intramuros. One of the guest speakers was Jolly Benitez, the head of the Marcos-era Metro Manila Commission and one of the Marcos government technocrats. His talk was brief but to the point. He explained why areas of the metropolis were flooding at that time.

    Benitez explained that when the metropolis was developing,. he and the other technocrats planned channels that drained floodwaters from the city into Manila Bay with the help of tidal waters.. These included pumping stations that would drain the floodwaters from the city into the channels. The tidal waters of Manila Bay would then naturally drain the channels during low tide when the bay waters would FLOW OUT into the bay. And since tides come and go during the day, the draining will be continuous.

    Two of the channels were built. You can still see them. One is near ASEANA. The other is beside the GSIS Building where a pumping station was also constructed.
    However, Benitez explained, the reclamation of the area around these channels. (part of present-day MOA and other areas surrounding it) lengthened the waterways leading into Manila Bay.

    The result? There is no time for the floodwaters to drain. The channels are too long that the tidal waters had already shifted before everything can be drained. So, a huge amount of the floodwaters that were supposedly drained when the tide flows out are still in the seaside channels when high tide begins and the waters FLOW IN.

    This is the reason Paranaque, Las Pinas, and parts of Manila have flooding problems now, Benitez explained. The floodwaters have nowhere else to go.

    In my personal observation, this is what happened to the Zapote area in Las Pinas. When the CAViTEX was built, it closed off Zapote River from Manila Bay. The river is now only drained through a number of drainage pipes lining the banks of the expressway. These pipes are not enough to drain the river during high tide and the rainy season. The result? Knee to waist deep floods in Zapote and parts of Bacoor.


  2. DING VELASCO: Ding C. Velasco

    February 3 at 10:59 PM
    Now yet again, the effort to clean Manila Bay is just a feint or a diversion when the real objective is to give China, Dennis Uy and some cronies the get go & unlimited access to reclaim some 900 hectares of seaward territory fronting the Cities of Manila and Pasay.
    Erap says Manila will gain at least P50 Billion in tax revenues and fees, and so with Pasay for about the same degree. What about present livelihood and environmental concerns?
    A 900 hectare reclamation project in Manila Bay will not only significantly alter the bio-system of the bay robbing it of its ability to cleanse itself but it will also clog the entrance of Manila Bay between Bataan and Pasay, much to the detriment of the populations in Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan who are dependent on the bay for their livelihood.
    Else, why immediately transfer the PRA from the DENR (who can well study reclamation projects with their rank & file technicians/scientists) to the Office of the President?