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Reclaiming Manila Bay, reigniting the economy

A new master-planned city will soon rise on reclaimed land along the coastal area of Manila Bay. Known as Solar City Manila, it will be developed by the Manila Goldcoast Development Corp. (MGDC) in a consortium with the City of Manila.

Clearing the way for the 148-hectare reclamation project was an official communication from the Office of the President signed by Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea last month. In his memorandum to the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), Medialdea said the OP interposed no objection in granting a notice to mobilize (NTM) and a notice to commence actual reclamation works (NTCARW) for Solar City Manila, subject to compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations.

Subsequently through Governing Board Resolution 5625 series of 2021, the PRA issued the two notices to the MGDC-led consortium last week after receiving Medialdea’s assurance that the OP did not oppose the start of the Solar City project.

It may be recalled that in February 2019, Malacañang had already granted a clearance to proceed with the project pursuant to Executive Order (EO) 543 series of 2006 and EO No. 74 series of 2019 as well as succeeding representations made by the PRA on the completion of documentary requirements and concurrences of the relevant government agencies.

This mixed-use development was originally called the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road Reclamation (MCCRR)-North Sector Project when it was proposed for bidding more than three decades ago. In 1991, MGDC was awarded the project by the Public Estate Authority (PEA), the predecessor agency of the PRA under the administration of President Corazon Aquino.

During the term of her son, President Benigno C. Aquino III, the PRA board affirmed the MCCRR-North Sector Project’s previous award to MGDC in 2011. That was the same year when the City Council of Manila passed an ordinance allowing the resumption of reclamation activities on Manila Bay.

By virtue of Presidential Decree 1084, President Ferdinand E. Marcos created the PEA in 1977 to serve primarily as the clearinghouse for all reclamation projects in the country. The agency was formerly attached to the Department of Public Works and Highways but in 2004, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo transferred its oversight to the Department of Finance through EO 329 and thereafter renamed the PEA to the PRA via EO 380.

MGDC is part of the Solar Group owned by the Tieng family. This Philippine conglomerate has business interests in several industries such as entertainment, satellite communications, property landbanking, and real estate development. Way back 30 years ago, the Tiengs had already proposed the Solar City Manila project to the national and local governments as the Manila Goldcoast Reclamation Project.

According to media reports, two other consortiums are waiting for Malacañang’s go-signal to pursue their own reclamation projects.

“The PRA’s request for NTMs and NTCARWs relative to the Horizon Manila Reclamation Project and the Manila Waterfront Reclamation shall be acted upon separately,” Medialdea noted. Proponents of both projects are likewise the LGU of Manila and its private sector partners.

Kudos to Medialdea and the OP for their decisiveness in green-lighting these long overdue projects. The jobs and revenues to be generated by the reclamation of Manila Bay will give a much-needed boost to our economy that is still being battered by the pandemic.

Joseph Gamboa is the co-chairman of the Finex Annual Conferences for 2020-2021, chairman of the Finex Business Columns Subcommittee and director of Noble Asia Industrial Corp. The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinion of these institutions and the BusinessMirror.

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