Currently, there are multiple development projects in the Philippines to comply with our advancing society. These projects, with the initiative of our government, are meant to provide solutions to a wide range of societal and economic needs that can further foster the growth of our country. With large-scale infrastructure development projects such as airports, bridges, and dams, Filipinos are set to enjoy an enhanced quality of life with such essential infrastructure projects.
Infrastructure development projects are vital for the advancement of the Philippines. As a rapidly growing nation in Southeast Asia, the Philippine government expects that development projects can boost the country’s growth even further by attracting foreign investors, generating employment opportunities, and even delivering progressive infrastructure for the benefit of the growing population. These projects are not only to enhance the profitability of the country, but they are meant to elevate the overall standard of living for all Filipinos.
The Controversial Philippine Development Projects
In pursuit of infrastructure development projects, the Philippines is not without controversy. Environmental impact, potential displacement the apparent lack of respect for indigenous communities, and the effect of the development projects on the safety and convenience of Filipinos are some concerns raised that bring up whether the development projects are truly for the benefit of the Filipino people.
Metro Manila Subway
Image from GMA Network
A Philippine development project that made headlines after the contentious statement of then-president Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesperson alongside various misleading posts shared on social media platforms last year, the Metro Manila Subway is an ongoing infrastructure project proposed way back in 1973 by the administration of the current president’s father, Ferdinand Marcos.
Duterte’s spokesperson stated that the Metro Manila Subway is something he describes as “the renaissance of Philippine infrastructure,” adding that the president will be remembered for being the one who shepherded the project. Misleading social media posts also circulated the internet last year, sharing information with missing context in order to arrive at a statement that the Metro Manila Subway was, in fact, snubbed by 6 administrations since its proposal in 1973.
In reality, the project was initially halted by then-president Ferdinand Marcos, who opted to proceed with the establishment of Light Rail Transit (LRT) instead due to flooding concerns. In addition to this, the Metro Manila Subway project was again picked up and kick-started by then-president Benigno Aquino III, but was eventually postponed and delayed due to project scheduling issues.
The Metro Manila Subway will extend for 33.1 kilometers and run through Valenzuela City to Bicutan, Parañaque City. The MMS will have 17 stations and is expected to be fully operational in 2029.
Image from IBON Foundation
There are two main issues surrounding the controversial dam project in Kaliwa. One is that the project was set to displace the Remontado and Dumagat tribes they will demolish whose ancestral lands for the dam project. Second is that the Kaliwa Dam project comes with significant environmental consequences that will have potentially irreversible negative environmental impacts on the biodiversity of the area. This includes the habitat of the critically endangered endemic species of the Philippine eagle.
In addition to the alarming consequences that the Philippine government has seemingly chosen to overlook in the pursuance of the Kaliwa Dam, the project site is located inside the Kaliwa watershed area, which is a forest reserve area meant to serve the purpose of a wildlife sanctuary. The project is also located within a declared national park location, which violates the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act, and the Expanded NIPAS Act3.
Set to be completed in 2026, the Kaliwa Dam Project pushed through despite issues with IP communities. The dam will reach up to 60-meter-high and will cover 291 hectares of the Kaliwa Watershed Forest Reserve.
Dolomite Beach Project
Image from inquirer.net
The environmental issue surrounding the project of Dolomite Beach is what made the development project controversial when it was first proposed by then-president Duterte’s administration. Marine biologists raised their concerns about the safety of the marine life in Manila Bay. In addition to this, dolomite dust from the project has been known to cause respiratory issues in humans, as well as gastrointestinal problems if ingested.
The Dolomite Beach is a 500-meter stretch of land dumped with dolomite sand along Manila Bay. The project was completed in October 2022.
The Case For Sustainability In Construction
Sustainability and negative environmental impacts are some of the biggest reasons why local development projects are criticized. The Philippines is a country considered being one of the first locations to experience the adverse effects of climate change, and any large-scale infrastructure projects may have an underlying environmental threat that is not given proper acknowledgment and attention by the government. Infrastructure projects like the current controversial real estate project of popular architect Slater Young are considered damaging to the environment under the guise of sustainability.
In our modern society, sustainability is promoted by multiple environmental experts as a clear societal goal rather than a promotional tagline for businesses. In the Philippine construction industry, there are many infrastructure projects meant to benefit the environment and the lives of Filipinos. Recognizing the environmental impacts of an infrastructure project is necessary, but it can inspire architects and engineers to create sustainable innovations.
- Baclig, C. E. (2022, August 24). Dolomite project just one of many ecological threats seen in Manila Bay. Inquirer.net. Retrieved September 5, 2023, from https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1652663/for-posting-edited-dolomite-project-just-one-of-many-ecological-threats-seen-in-manila-bay
- Punzalan, J. (2021, February 5). ‘Manigas kayong lahat’: Duterte spox hits critics, boasts subway project. ABS-CBN News. Retrieved September 5, 2023, from https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/02/05/21/manigas-kayong-lahat-duterte-spox-hits-critics-boasts-subway-project
- Rappler. (2022, June 28). MISSING CONTEXT: Metro Manila Subway project snubbed by 6 administrations. Rappler. Retrieved September 5, 2023, from https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/fact-check/metro-manila-subway-snubbed-by-administrations/
- Sarao, Z., & REYES, R. A. (2021, September 16). Construction of Kaliwa Dam pushed through even without permits — COA. Inquirer.net. Retrieved September 5, 2023, from https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1488470/implementation-of-kaliwa-dam-project-pushed-through-even-without-permits-coa
- Sarmiento, B. S., & Esterman, I. (2022, February 28). ‘I am pro-mining’: Indigenous opposition to Philippine mine project falters. Mongabay. Retrieved September 5, 2023, from https://news.mongabay.com/2022/02/i-am-pro-mining-indigenous-opposition-to-philippine-mine-project-falters/