A construction boom in Metro Manila is widely seen as a boon for the Philippine economy, but it may come at a price money can't measure, including the famed Manila Bay sunset.
Civil society and environment leaders recently slammed plans to reclaim bay areas along Roxas Boulevard, approved by the city council of Manila last year.
"Sunset on Manila Bay is a spectacular experience, and is free for all to enjoy. But not for long, if developers have their way," the group said.
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A signature campaign on Change.org has been launched by a group called "SOS Manila Bay Coalition", which is rallying opposition against the project.
The coalition is composed of several civil society and environment groups, including the Cultural Center of the Philippines and World Wildlife Fund Philippines.
Also leading the initiative are private sector stakeholders, among them Magsaysay Lines owner Doris Magsaysay Ho as well as online activist and popular tour guide Carlos Celdran.
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The reclamation will be implemented through an April 2012 consortium agreement between the Manila City government and Manila Goldcoast Development Corp., the same group which eyed a Manila Bay development in 1992.
It will involve about 288 hectares of land, including parts of the Manila Yacht Club and the Philippine Navy Headquarters.
Aside from blocking the view of the sunset from Malate and Ermita, the project will "worsen floods, extinguish the tourism area along Roxas Boulevard," the group said.
It may also impact Intramuros as well as "20 vital anchorage berths for ships," the group added.
"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," the group said.
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"We must act to protest this reclamation and prevent further destruction and loss of our heritage. We will stop them again," it added.
A formal petition has also been drafted, asking the Manila City council to stop the reclamation while urging the implementation of a master plan to "maximize the potential of the waterfront."
"[T]he 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..." the petition read.
It will also "destroy all hopes of making Manila the center of culture, arts, recreation, and tourism," it added.
This, as it noted the importance of increasing stakeholders' awareness about how the area will affect the residential, business, tourism and cultural communities around the area.
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