By Tracy Cabrera
TO put an end to the perennial flooding north of Manila, the country’s largest corporation San Miguel (SMC) is planning to plant nearly 200 thousand mangroves in the coastal areas near the site where the Duterte administration will build a US15.1-billion (more than PhP735 billion) airport.
Prior to this, a new Manila international airport, dubbed as the Bagong Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Maynila, also known as the Bulacan International Airport, was proposed by San Miguel to President Rodrigo Duterte and would be built on a 2,500-hectare property near the coastal areas of Bulakan, Bulacan, some 35 kilometers away north of Manila.
SMC president Ramon Ang described the proposed airport as a replacement of the overcrowded Ninoy Aquino International Airport(NAIA). It is also considered part of an envisioned 12,000 hectare township that features a residential zone, government center, seaport and an industrial zone.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board approved SMC’s unsolicited proposal on April 26, 2018 and negotiations was reported on the concession agreement (CA) on December 21, 2018. Under the approved terms, the concession agreement includes a no government guarantee or any form of subsidy from the state.
On August 13, 2019, SMC tapped three international firms—Groupe ADP Ingénierie, Meinhardt Group and Jacobs Engineering Group (the same builders behind Singapore Changi Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airpot, and Charles de Gaulle Airport) to build and design the airport.
On September 18, 2019, San Miguel Corporation, through its unit, San Miguel Aerocity Inc. was awarded a ₱734-billion deal to oversee, then hand over the project by the Department of Transportation (DoTr) after both firms signed a concession agreement for the building of the new airport at the ASEAN Convention Center in Clark Freeport Zone.
In view of this, SMC now wants to tackle the flooding problems in the area by planting mangroves along the coast and appears that crabs may help be able to get the job done. To protect the mangrove forests, the nation’s largest beer-maker, will also grow 100,000 mud crabs monthly at the 10-hectare plantation.
“Aside from protecting the mangroves, mud crabs can also be a source of livelihood for people in the area,” Ang said.
“These flood mitigation measures are all integral to airport development. It’s important to address these environmental concerns before investing over 700 billion pesos for the airport,” he concluded.