THE PHILIPPINES and the Netherlands signed a memorandum of understanding for a sustainable development and management master plan for the Manila Bay area.

The two governments agreed to work together to draft the Manila Bay Sustainable Development Master Plan, which will guide future decisions on programs or projects such as coastal protection works, solid waste and water resources management, transport, and reclamation activities.

The plan also includes the development of slums and the relocation of informal settlers along Manila Bay.

“The Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022 recognizes the crucial importance of the environment and natural resources in the country’s development. We must strike a balance between the growth of the economy and the environment sustainability,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said during the singing ceremony yesterday at the National Economic and Development Authority headquarters in Pasig city.

“Thus, the PDP outlines aggressive strategies to rehabilitate and restore degraded natural resources and to protect fragile ecosystems while improving the welfare of resource-dependent communities,” he added.

Netherlands Ambassador to the Philippines Marion Derckx said: “The government has so many plans for infrastructure, and the Netherlands already has quite some experience in the Philippines in this field. The agency that is going to assist NEDA in making this plan is our knowledge institute for water (resources).”

NEDA Undersecretary Rolando G. Tungpalan said that there is an “enormous opportunity” for the private sector to take part in the program, as he expects a number of unsolicited proposals to surface.

“There’s a lot of real property development potential alongside Manila Bay,” he said.

“Largely, those that are revenue generating. Property development, and the transportation around them,” he added.

Mr. Tungpalan said that proposals are expected to emerge when the master plan develops, noting that no reclamation bids from the Philippine Reclamation Authority have been submitted to NEDA.

Aside from the Manila Bay, the rehabilitation of the Pasig river will also be considered as it is a connected body of water.

He said that one of the initiatives of the government includes reviving the ferry service along the Pasig river.

“So the service can not only serve the Laguna de Bay area, but also along the coastal part of Manila Bay. But that is in the planning works. But I think you have that compatibility between the Pasig River as well as Manila Bay. It’s a program that were excited about,” Mr. Tungpalan said.

“So hopefully, this output, this exercise will give us a plan. We have coastal defense, of course storm surges, but we also look at the different infrastructure sectors and environmental performance that will ensure sustainable Manila Bay development,” he added. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan