The presence of squatters in the city is a reflection of a basic social problem: inadequate housing. Housing problem affects the unemployed and the employed who do not own the place they live in. The reasons may be varied but the most obvious would be the prohibitive cost of building a house.
Indeed, the local housing problem is so serious that any hope for its meaningful resolution requires the immediate implementation of sustained slum clearance and squatter relocation with provisions for housing and other basic facilities in relocation sites as well as strict squatter prevention measures in cleared areas. The city government, thru its Urban Settlements Office is committed to address this housing predicament, hopefully, in terms of quantity, affordability, quality and accessibility. It must be added, however, that it does when the city faces increasing financial constraints as a result of the higher cost of other essential public services. Construction materials cost is among the highest in the country. Interest rates are high and are still soaring the steady influxed of migrant fortune-seekers to live in Manila place added pressure on the city’s housing stock. These are factors over which the City has little control of it all.
At any rate, fully meeting the “needs”; will require a rate of production many times greater that what has been constructed in recent years. Significantly, to begin to fill the city’s housing backlog, the production of at least 1,000 dwellings units must be undertaken a year. The rent or purchase price of many of these units should be reduced to make them affordable. For various reasons, the supply of affordable housing is not expanding enough to match demand.
What can the city then do to increase the supply of housing? It can assure allocation of sufficient sites for housing at locations acceptable to prospective constituent/beneficiaries; provide land use incentives for the production of housing, particularly mass-oriented housing project; assist, to a limited extent, in the financing of socialized high-rise tenement type of housing and establish a favorably regular climate for new housing construction.
The price of urbanization has been prohibitive due to pollution, imbalances in the eco-system. Waterways are practically bad, the air is polluted because of unregulated vehicular emissions and industrial wastes; waste management remains inadequate. The Pasig River and the 23 creeks or esteros are considered biologically dead.
Time Magazine had reported Manila as one of the mega cities in the world suffering from extreme air pollution. Records from the LTO showed that there are some 650,000 vehicles plying the streets of the metropolis. Sixty percent of the air-pollution is attributed to smoke-belching and 40 percent to industrial plants.
Air pollution is posing increasingly serious problems in some of the world’s biggest cities, and is now an almost inescapable part of urban life anywhere according to a report jointly published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). The report, “Urban Air Pollution in Mega cities of the World”, is the result of a scientific study of pollution levels in 20 such cities – those that already have population of 10 million or more, or are expected to reach that total be the year 2000.
The United Nations estimates that by the now, 47 percent of the global population is living in urban areas. The cities are: Bangkok, Bombay, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Calcutta, Delhi, Jakarta, Karachi, London, Los Angeles, Manila, Mexico City, Moscow, New York, Rio de Janeiro, San Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai and Tokyo. In some of them, air pollution contributes to premature death and serious disability although the report says that these cities are not necessarily the world’s most polluted. The urgent action recommended were:
air quality management programs
motor vehicle examination and maintenance programs
phasing out lead in petrol
promotion of mass transit systems
alternatives to open dumping/burning of refuse
the introduction of “clean” technologie
Solid waste collection and disposal has always been viewed by local executives as a major area of concern over the years. The fact is, as the City population grows, the problem of waste management grows proportionately. It is because of this reality that compelled the local leadership to continuously search, formulate and implement appropriate and multi-dimensional programs that would ensure a long-term beneficial impact not only to the constituents of the City of Manila but also to the entire country as a whole. Consequently, waste management in the City has been one of the highest priority concerns thaf which has become an indispensable component of development.
The problems of Manila in this regard are the following: Livelihood Generation.
a. The unemployment rate as of 1996 was 13.46%. It has been going down over the past ten years: 17.46% in 1993, 16.68% in 1994. However, the rate is still unacceptably high. Moreover, the underemployment rate is most likely high although there are no official calculations for this.
b. The poverty rate for 1994 was 11.5% of Manila’s population. Roughly 190,000 persons (38,000 households) live below the national Capital Region poverty threshold.
c. Some key business have left the city. Banks and insurance companies have transferred their headquarters to nearby cities. However, some have left their branches in Manila.
d. The tourism industry is languishing. Manila is regarded primarily as a stopover city, rather than as a destination in itself Tour operators hesitate to sell city tours because of the many problems besetting the city; hotel managers complain of low occupancy rates. This, of course, affects the many small entrepreneurs that depend on the tourism industry.
e. The majority of families in Manila work either in government or in the private sector. A sizeable number of productive residents are engaged in business or some sort of entrepreneurial activities. The challenge facing the city is how to create an environment that will encourage more entrepreneurship.
Historic conservation. A competitive advantage of Manila over its neighbors is that it has high density of important landmark sites and buildings. But these are rapidly disappearing. In many countries in Europe, America and Southeast Asia, local governments regard the proper management of existing landmarks buildings and streets as crucial to the revitalization of a district Such sites (1) help foster a pride of place among residents, (2) generate new jobs because they attract visitors, (3) attract certain types of investors who want the glamour of holding office in an interesting historic district and (4) ultimately increase revenues. Thus far this notion is a new one in Manila and has not yet been applied.
a. Many formerly attractive mansions from the 19th and early 20th centuries no longer house middle and high-income families. Their insides have been divided into small apartment units with poor ventilation and poor lighting
b. Many such mansions are being eyed for demolition to make way for high-rise apartments. Thus far speculation is on the lot rather than on the building itself£ There are no protective laws and ordinances for landmark buildings.
c. The surrounding environment has deteriorated. Thus high-income residents and quality business have left. Slums have flourished.
LAND USE PLANNING
Land use policy (as exercised through zoning, Development controls and building regulation) has far exerted only limited impact in shaping the type, pattern and intensity of urban development activity in the City of Manila.
Ordinance No.2830 was passed and enforced in Manila on October 28, 1940 until it was suspended in 1953 by the New Zoning Ordinance. In March 1981, the Zoning for the National Capital Region jointly prepared by the Local Zoning review Committee of the Office of the Commission for Planning, Metropolitan Manila Commission Zoning Ordinance and Human Settlements Regulatory Commission which was enacted in 1981 and still in effect in Manila for more than 16 years to this date. The subdivision regulations have been in force since 1977. The MMC is the agency that issues building clearances as a prerequisite for the issuance of a building permit by the local government unit. The problem of non-conforming and land use was aggravated by the issuance of clearances even to those that are clearly in violation of the zoning ordinance. While the zoning ordinance provided the spatial allocation for various urban activities (residential, commercial, industrial, etc.) it did not provide clear regulatory standards on the intensity of various development activities.
Aside from the inherent weakness of the ordinance itself, it suffered from an inadequate enforcement system. Thus, the objectives of the ordinance were often overwhelmed by the real state market mechanism and the demands of market economy. Environmental objectives of the ordinance were, therefore, compromised on the basis of a more pragmatic private sector considerations. To be able to respond to the problem of rapid urbanization, the City of Manila must be able to come up with an updated and a more responsive zoning ordinance.
Manila is divided into zones of different vulnerability levels defined by the types of soil rock materials present that control the resonance of swaying buildings. Under the very high risk zone underlain by the very ‘thick layers of soft clay or loose sand greater than 15 meters are Quiapo, Intramuros, Sta.Cruz, Binondo and Port Area. Malate and Ermita are very high zones underlain by medium dense sand or clay while Pandacan is low risk zone with stiff to hard clay dense sand.
FLOOD PRONE AREAS
The major causes of annual flooding of the low-lying areas in Manila are:
Overflowing of the Pasig River and esteros during intense storms; and
Inadequate inland drainage facilities to cope with excessive local surface run-offs.
These are further aggravated by a reduction of the carrying capacity of the Pasig River due to the indiscriminate disposal of solid wastes into esteros, drains and the river itself by squatters and the deposition of silt eroded from deforested upstream sections. The reduced flow capacity of the Pasig River has attributed to the overflowing and flooding of low-lying areas during heavy rains.
The areas that are frequently and oftentimes seriously flooded are Tondo, Sta. Cruz, Sampaloc, Sta. Mesa and San Andres.
FAULT LINE / EARTHQUAKE PRONE AREAS
The dire consequences of a major earthquake hitting the Metropolitan area has been the focus of attention by experts on this particular field. The focus of intense discussion is the Marikina Fault which cut across most parts of the metropolis. The experts contend that although Manila had been severely damaged by the earthquakes over the past several years, none of these has been traced to the Marikina Fault Instead in historical times, most of these have emanated from the Philippine fault, an active earth rupture nearly 100 kilometers east of Metro Manila. The experts conclude therefore that even without considering the Marikina Fault, Manila is vulnerable to high intensity earthquakes.
Above all of these concerns are opportunities for development for the City of Manila. Amidst tight supply of land resources and other related concerns, the City’s strategic location, economic vitality and historic/socio-cultural significance open many windows of opportunity for development. The political mandate bestowed towards the renewal of Manila is unmistakably immense.
Manila, being the country’s center of trade and commerce has well-developed facilities and services m transport, communications, power, recreation and infrastructure. Its well equipped seaport facilities open the country to international trading. It serves as the major trading center of the Philippines, the hub of the country’s shipping network and the jump-off point for the country’s numerous island destinations.
Historically, Pasay, Makati, Navotas, Malabon and San Juan were parts of Manila that eventually became separate local government units. Manila has already reached the apex of its development potential maximizing the use of its land resources. The development direction that it can pursue is to go upward and intensify inner regenerative activities.
Manila is foreseen to undergo a great extent of redevelopment in the downtown area – Rizal Avenue, Quiapo, San Nicolas, Binondo and the ‘~red light” districts of Ermita and Malate. Direction of regenerative activities are also expected in Paco and Sta. Ana while rebuilding is anticipated in Pandacan when high-intensity industries are lifted in the area. Underutilized land resources which may be redeveloped into a community with medium or high-rise social housing provided with open space for park and utilities will change population and land use pattern in the city.
Decentralizing international shipping activities in the South Harbor and additional railway access in the inner core of the city, particularly in the North harbor, would mean lesser pressure on the radial roads and other city streets nearby. However, industrial activities in Tondo would create additional road demand and strong development pressure for nearby municipalities such as Navotas and Malabon or the city of Kalookan
The magnitude of industrial estate development in the northern part of Tondo signifies development pressure on land, housing and other basic services. ‘The present population density of the area poses a warning that utilities and other services are becoming insufficient, more so when the industries are fully operational.
Land scarcity in the city is well-recognized and territorial expansion is no longer feasible. Alternatively, it can go beyond its land limits along the Manila Bay. This, however, will be dictated by its impact to the environment and its viability.
LOCAL & INTERNATIONAL LINKAGES
Manila is strategically located on the eastern coast of Manila Bay at the mouth of the Pasig River. Despite the existence of other regional growth centers, many cities in the country, particularly in the Metropolitan Manila area highly depend on the City of Manila for shipping facilities. The city’s well developed harbor facilities link it to different parts of the country as well as the rest of the world. Likewise, Manila is only a few kilometers away from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Parañaque via Roxas Boulevard.
What better way is there to interact with people than by directly involving themselves in socially wholesome and enriching activities? People are the primary players in linking one area to another. Manila may seem overly congested but this does not deter people from other places to come and visit the city’s interesting sites.
Other engaging areas which draw tourists, both local and international are the bazaar and trade centers as well as the convention and cultural centers located in the reclaimed portion of the city. Trade proliferate in the areas of Divisoria and the Chinese district of Binondo. Manila is also frequently visited for its famed fine dining restaurants mostly in Adriatico and its esteros fast food chain located in Binondo.
Manila’s accessibility is attributed to its roads, utilities and communication facilities. With its eight radial roads and its railways, Manila is linked with its neighboring cities and municipalities, giving access to places as far as Region 3 and 4. The Pasig River is now being utilized as an alternative transport gateway to the east connecting the city with Mandaluyong, Makati, Marikina and Pasig.
The City of Manila has undergone rapid urbanization for the past several decades. Whatever plans that were in place were overwhelmed by the rapid developments that took place. The City determined to restore the old glory of Manila and the prestige it deserves. To achieve this, we shall be guided by the following development goals:
Human and Ecological Security
It shall be our goal to provide human and ecological security to improve the quality of life of the people of Manila. The city government is determined to address the needs of our constituents without sacrificing the ecological balance between man and tile environment This goal would mean alleviation , if not freedom from poverty, social injustices and economic imbalance – complemented with sound ecologically balanced environment. It acknowledges that concern for the environment in relation to man should be far more integrated in the process of governance.
The physical, social, economic, and political structures of the city need to be revitalized to accommodate and respond to the irreversible complexities brought by urbanization a midst accelerating population. The demands created by these activities in a old city like Manila compelled the city government to resort for urban regeneration, to upgrade the city infrastructure and services, restore and rehabilitate existing cultural landmarks, and spur the city’s development that is responsive to the needs of both present and future requirements.
DEVELOPMENT POLICIES AND STRATEGIES
The City of Manila shall be guided by the following policies and strategies that shall serve as development pillars in the pursuit of the City’s development goals.
Dynamic and Responsive Local Governance
Manila’s built-in advantages as a premier city and as the nation’s trading and commercial center have not been fully utilized. The prestige associated with the city’s rich historical past and its superior natural and human resources have not been a major tributary to alleviate the city’s monstrous ~ problems. Moreover, the inability to exercise, and maximize these built-in advantages as a result of traditional local governance has stirred the city into a decaying metropolis. Local Government Code of 1991 provides local functions of autonomous power and a corporate character, encourages and supports every local functionary to be dynamic and responsive in handling their respective local affairs. In this light, the city government firmly believes that in order to facilitate the realization of its developmental goals and objectives, it is first and foremost to lay down the foundation of a dynamic and responsive local governance, and let the same be institutionalize
Participatory governance unveils the strategy of integrated and coordinated approaches. Such policy and strategy entice and encourage all sectors of the society to take part and make a bold step in shaping the city’s development plight in connection with their respective sect oral needs, not allowing the city government alone to shoulder all the burdens and initiatives, but rather share with the local government quest for socio-economic deliverance. Moreover, transparency within the approaches ensure the active, dynamic and productive partnership between the government, barangay officials and the private sectors towards a renewed envisioned City of Manila.
URBAN RENEWAL & LAND USE PROGRAM
“BRING BACK THE OLD GLORIES OF MANILA.” The slogan openly acknowledged the urgent need to restore and regenerate the city’s physical structures and facilities. The challenge to regenerate the city now rides with the Urban Renewal and Land Use Management strategy of the city government. Urban planning as a tool facilitates direction to build a desirable regenerated urban structure. It creates opportunities resulting front spatial planning as well as enhances and promotes cultural landmarks management and implants the land use pattern reflective of the city’s comprehensive development plan.
ECOLOGICALLY BALANCE & SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
The ‘”PRO-LIFE” advocacy of the city government encompasses calls for an ecologically-balance and sustainable environment to support the life-cycle system. It shall include the ability to protect and ensure that all living things are adequately provided without sacrificing the needs of future generations.. This is “PRO-LIFE POLICY” – dynamic and responsive in its calling, preventive and curative in dealing with the problems of urban environment It is not a policy that deals merely with the life of the unborn, but rather it is concern with the more broader meaning of LIFE, such as the God given natural and physical resources)., the entire interwoven LIFE support- system, its synergy, and complementarily for a better and sustainable quality of life now and the future.