MANILA -- The governments of the Philippines and the Kingdom of the Netherlands on Monday agreed to work together to develop a master plan for the sustainable development and management of the Manila Bay area.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia and Netherlands Ambassador to the Philippines Marion Derckx signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the formulation of the Manila Bay Sustainable Development Master Plan (MBSDMP) that is envisioned to guide future decisions on programs and projects to be undertaken within the area.

“The project will try to bring back the old glory of the Manila Bay to the extent possible,” Pernia said in a press briefing.

Pernia, also National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director-General, said the country partnered with Netherlands for the Manila Bay development, recognizing its extensive knowledge and experience in implementing programs and projects that protect vulnerable coastal zones.

“These infrastructure solutions, thereby, help boost their economy and food supply, among others, while ensuring that their coastal areas are protected. This is a testament that economic development and ecological objectives could go hand in hand,” he said.  

NEDA Undersecretary for Investment Programming Rolando G. Tungpalan said there were various reclamation proposals on Manila Bay.

“It does not mean hold everything but hold the major ones that will have a huge impact on sustainable development,” he said.

 So hopefully the output of this exercise would give us a plan that looks at coastal defense for storm surges and various infrastructure centers and environmental component that would sustain Manila Bay development, he added.

Tungpalan said the development would provide various opportunities for the private sector, such as property development, transport and revival of ferry transport along the Pasig River.

“It’s enormous because there is real property potential along the Manila Bay. It’s a program we are excited about,” he said.

For her part, Ambassador Derckx said her country represents “how years and years of experience with water management has led to expertise.”

The Netherlands excels in areas like land reclamation, constructing ports, flood management, early warning systems, climate change adaptation, water recycling and other water-related issues.

Meanwhile, the Philippine government will allot PHP250 million, while The Netherlands will earmark at least PhP75 million for the formulation of master plan for Manila Bay development.

The master plan shall be completed in 30 months starting Jan. 5 this year. (PNA)