Don’t Wait for the Earthquake to Decongest Metro Manila

by Max Sangil

These past two weeks TV news and front page stories were focused on the long time serving Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum. He talks of the impending ‘the big one’. Early on he was saying that in between fifteen years there will be a great movement of the earthquake faults in and around Metro Manila. Are we taking that seriously? Funny, after those much publicized earthquake drills which to my mind were more of public relations stunts more than anything else, there are no concrete actions from government.

Of course, Solidum is not only trying to scare the wits of anyone, but government is not responding as it should. Another Renato, and that would be businessman Rene Romero of Pampanga Chamber of Commerce a staunch advocate of a decongest Metro Manila movement has been vocal in his call to push now the right buttons and start the decongestion. Are we waiting for the earthquake to start decongestion?

The Metro Manila urban area according to a World Bank study is so dense that the residents quality of of life is so low and it’s getting worse everyday. Traffic and pollution are the two pinpointed problems that gets worse every passing years. It is said by analysts that short and long term solutions should be in application now, and that government should gather it’s strongest politicsl will and make the tough decisions.

One of the answers in the decongestion of Metro Manila is the 39,000 hectare Clark Special Economic Zone. I was still with the Bases Conversion And Development Authority (BCDA) when Clark Green City was conceptualized. The more than 9,000 hectares expanse somewhere in Capas, Tarlac will be carved out and it is planned to the first smart, disaster-resilient city north of Metro Manila.

The Green City is around 100 kilometers from the West Valley Fault Lines and is surrounded by the Zambales and Sierra Madre mountain ranges. The area is even shielded by these two sierras. ‘When calamity strikes in the Metro Manila area issues like health, public order and several other challenges will confront government’, said former Bases Conversion Development Authority ( BCDA) President Arnel Casanova.

Now Casanova’s successor, Vince Dizon is pushing hard for faster development of the green city.And in case l00 kilometers maybe too far to many there is the Alviera in Hacienda Dolores in Porac, Pampanga. The Ayalas bought a 1000 hectares in that once dormant town, and the community being built there is a mixed use township. The Green City and the Alviera are two good options for those who want to move early.

Editor’s Note: Formerly newspaperman of Daily Inquirer and other major dailies; former TV and radio Broadcaster.

Former Director of various corporations like Clark Development Co.; and a former City of Angeles Councillor. Now a regular columnist of Sun Star Pampanga.