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Palafox to make Bulacan airport and aerocity the pacesetter for green, inclusive cities in the country
by Philippine Resources - September 02, 2021
San Miguel Corporation’s (SMC) airport and aerocity project in Bulakan, Bulacan will be a pacesetter for green cities that are both sustainable and equitable, one that aims to address social and environmental concerns that affect even the country’s major financial districts today.
This, according to the country’s top urban planner and green architect Felino “Jun” Palafox Jr. who outlined some of the major features that he and SMC president Ramon S. Ang envision for the much-anticipated development in Bulacan.
Palafox Associates has been tapped by SMC to help masterplan its airport plus city concept or “aerocity” development--where its massive, P740-billion airport project, the New Manila International Airport will be located.
Comparing the Bulacan project to environment-enhancing developments in Dubai and other parts of the world, Palafox said the development will integrate the best practices in green, sustainable, and disaster-resilient architecture that he has advocated and implemented in some 1,700 projects in about 45 countries worldwide.
Palafox said the new development will take advantage of SMC president Ramon S. Ang’s forward-thinking and bias for taking action to undertake projects without cost to the government.
“I’m aligned with the mission, vision and goal of Ramon Ang. He invited me to partner with him in this new undertaking: a green aerotropolis. At Palafox, we’ve analyzed that we need at least 100 new cities all over the Philippinex by 2050. If we don’t do it, our cities will become as bad, if not worse than Metro Manila. We envision the Bulacan Aerocity development as the first model and pacesetter for future green and sustainable cities in the country” Palafox said.
For his part, SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang said that the project will be a legacy project, not just of him and Palafox, but of the present generation to future generations of Filipinos.
“I want to emphasize to our countrymen that what we are building is more than just an international gateway with four runways, with an infrastructure network to connect it directly to Metro Manila and many other points in Luzon. The airport is just one component-- what we’re building is the Philippines’ first truly green city of the future,” Ang said.
“We see this project as a silver lining amid all the difficulties we face today because of the pandemic. All Filipinos are looking forward to a future where COVID-19 is less of a threat to our lives and our economy. We want to see the positive developments that lie ahead for our country. I believe this is one of the best things we can look forward to with much hope and optimism,” he added.
Ang also touted the significant economic impact the project will have on the country and the Filipino people.
“Airport cities around the world generate a significant amount of jobs, and that is ultimately what we want to do. We need jobs and opportunities for our countrymen today, but more importantly, for the next generation in the coming years, especially since we are trying to recover from a pandemic,” Ang said.
He added that “The jobs we will generate will not be limited to the airport city, or Bulacan province alone, but will extend to neighboring provinces, the rest of Luzon, and many other parts of the country which will benefit from increased tourism, increased investments because of better accessibility.”
Ang also said that he and Palafox have agreed to integrate best practices in green architecture, green urbanism, and green urban planning to the Aerocity development, and avoid the mistakes that have contributed to the present-day problems of the country’s biggest cities today.
Metro Manila: What went wrong
Palafox pointed out a number of contributing factors that have made life difficult for many people working in today’s primary business districts, which the Aerocity project will aim to address.
“The mistake in Makati’s central business district, Bonifacio Global City, and Ortigas is exclusionary or discriminatory zoning--excluding the employees from their places of work. Employees are like OFWs in their own countries, because they are five to six hours away from their places of work and families, because of traffic congestion,” Palafox said.
“Before, real estate criterion was always location, location, location. Now, it’s more than location; it’s accessibility, accessibility, accessibility, and mobility, mobility, mobility. That is why the infrastructure that both government and private sector companies like SMC are doing now, are very welcome, as they alleviate the traffic that many people have no choice but to endure,” Palafox added.
Palafox related that in 1990, Makati reclassified and increased the density of the Makati CBD by four times. However, access capacity and mobility was not similarly increased four times.
Adding to the problem is the fact that the CBD is constricted by gated, low-density neighborhoods, villages, and a gated cemetery--making it more difficult for most people to walk to work.
“Elsewhere in the world, NYC, European cities, Singapore, are ‘walkable’ because within 250-750 meters, there is a walking facility. Around Makati City, BGC, and Ortigas, you’re surrounded by gated communities, so you have to walk about one to two kilometers to go around. Our planning in the Philippines had the wrong model: Los Angeles, which was designed for automobiles,” he explained.
He also cited the prevailing influence of Spanish rule as a constraint.
“I’m talking about the colonial town plaza concept, where the elite or illustrados lived around the town plaza where the church, munisipyo and central park are. Meanwhile, the peasants or indios and Chinese merchants lived in extramuros, or outside. That was 500 years ago, but it’s still a concept in our urban planning development today,” he explained.
Enhancing the environment
Meanwhile, for Ang, apart from generating jobs, one of the most important considerations for the project is improving the environment--not just within and around the airport project, but throughout Bulacan province.
“From the very beginning, I promised Bulakenyos and all our stakeholders in government that the airport project and the aerocity development will have significant benefits for the province and the whole country. We will make sure to do everything right, because this is our biggest investment to date, and our legacy to the next generations,” Ang said.
“Specifically, we will clean up the environment, clear the river systems to enable water to flow freely again and address flooding; we will establish mangrove forests, with some 190,000 mangroves all over Bulacan and neighboring provinces to enhance biodiversity and help mitigate tidal flooding. We’re also looking to develop and enhance natural habitats of marine and bird species. There’s so much more we can do,” he added.
For the development itself, Ang said he and Palafox look to integrate the following concepts:
Adopt green architectural and green urbanism guidelines over and above the country’s building and zoning codes, which Palafox said no longer follows international standards.
- Follow the structural codes of other countries, specifically those situated in similar earthquake zones as the Philippines.
- Creation of an “innovation hub” where both learning institutions and technology-driven global companies can thrive. As such, Palafox has put forth a “town and gown” or university town concept, where learning institutions and the community partner together, such as in Cambridge and Boston in the United States, where Harvard University is. SMC is also looking to put up a medical and research facility along with the school.
- The aerocity project will be equipped with the latest in digital infrastructure, to enable people to work and conduct business anywhere.
- The development will also have lots of open spaces, as these are the “lungs” of a city. Palafox cited that Metro Manila went from green to gridlock because many parks and open spaces were reclassified into sellable and buildable properties. As the population grew, the parks and open spaces started disappearing.
Meanwhile, the aim for the Bulacan development is to allot highest and best use for the improvement of the environment, and to address climate change. These will be included in his proposed guidelines for green architecture and green urban planning.
Ultimately, the plan is to positively impact the whole of Bulakan, Bulacan so that in the end, Bulacan will not just be a province with an airport, but an airport-driven province.
In master-planning the development, “ridge to reef” planning will also be employed, taking into consideration the improvement of mountain ridges or highlands, midlands, the lowlands, and the coastline.
Public transport will also be easily accessible. One of the things being considered is a bicycle highway connected to the train system.
Palafox said the city will be a “healthy city”. It will be “walkable and attractive”. It will have less need for security because it will be open and there won’t be too many walls around the city, which Palafox sees as encouraging crime, and contributing to the heat index, as they obstruct cross ventilation in cities.
Meanwhile, the coastal area or Manila Bay waterfront will also be utilized for walkways, waterfront promenades.
Finally, Palafox and Ang said they will prioritize the triple bottomline: people first for social equity, alleviating poverty, and job creation or inclusivity. Then planet and the environment come next, with prosperity, economic growth, and profit following.
Article Courtesy of San Miguel Corporation
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Philippine Resources - September 24, 2021
DOTr eyes GenSan airport as alternate int'l gateway
Photo credit: Department of Transportation The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is pushing for the inclusion of the newly rehabilitated and expanded airport here as among the alternate gateways for returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and international travelers. DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade proposed the move on Thursday as he personally led the formal unveiling and inauguration of the city airport’s new passenger terminal building and other completed facilities. He said the city’s international standard airport can accommodate airline passengers coming in from as far as the Middle East. Tugade said it can be realized once the proposed increase in the daily cap for returning OFWs, currently at 2,000 for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), is approved. Once the cap is expanded, he said NAIA might “choke” with the influx of airline passengers from various countries. “If we will increase the cap, we need to expand our gateways and not limit them to Clark, Cebu, and NAIA. We can include GenSan among the gateways for travelers from Doha who are going to Manila,” he said in a press conference. He said they will propose such strategy with the airlines serving the international routes, including the Philippine Airlines, and seek the approval of the city government. The other possible alternate gateways could be the Laoag International Airport in Ilocos Norte and the Bohol-Panglao International Airport, Tugade said. The rehabilitated and expanded General Santos Airport passenger terminal building, which was completed early this month, is part of the PHP959-million upgrade implemented by the national government. The other completed components are the procurement and installation of navigational aids and the construction of the new Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) administration building at the airport. Under the project, Tugade said the passenger terminal area has tripled in size from 4,000 to 12,000 square meters. “This will allow the airport to accommodate more passengers and provide them comfortable and convenient travel,” he said in his speech. A DOTr report said the larger passenger terminal building can now accommodate around 2 million passengers annually, a significant jump from the previous 800,000 per year. Tugade said the improvement at the city airport will continue next year with the upgrading of its air control tower, which he considered as “too low.” He said they will build a “higher and modernized” tower in 2022 to make it “more world-class” and can easily adjust to the needs of the airport. The official said the upgrading of the airport, which started in 2018, is among the agency and the national government’s top priorities in Mindanao. He said the initiative is part of the government’s efforts to bring more progress and economic opportunities in Mindanao, which “suffered from long years of neglect in terms of development.” Tugade said they endeavored to implement these projects despite the challenges posed by the continuing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic to pursue their goal of giving a “comfortable and convenient life” to Filipinos. “After the pandemic, we want all these developments in place and ready to benefit the people,” he said. In a video message, President Rodrigo Duterte commended the DOTr, the local government, and concerned stakeholders for completing the projects at the city airport amid the Covid-19 pandemic. He said the city has “gone a long way” in terms of the development of its air connectivity and airport facilities. “The rehabilitation and expansion of the airport passenger terminal building, among others, will truly boost General Santos City’s role as an agro-industrial and eco-tourism hub,” the President said. City Mayor Ronnel Rivera lauded the national government for helping the city realize its dream of having an international-standard airport. Aside from the expanded passenger terminal building, the airport is now capable of accommodating bigger aircraft like Boeing 737 and 747, as well as Airbus A330, A340, and A350. “(What) we are seeing now is a result of multisectoral commitment and dedication in various stages of the airport development, which includes coordination of several initiatives, preparation of the airport master plan, operations, and marketing,” he said. The mayor said the local government will continue to engage with prospective investors and airlines for the opening of more flights to and from the airport and the development of adjacent areas. He cited the proposed establishment of an aerotropolis or growth area centered on the city airport and its surrounding areas. “We are opening a wide array of opportunities, not only on the improvement of our infrastructure facilities but also in terms of investments that will generate more economic opportunities for the city and the entire region (Soccsksargen),” he said. Aside from the inauguration of the airport projects, Tugade also led the unveiling of completed initiatives at the Makar port here. The DOTr said it includes the construction of the Port Operations Building and other vital facilities, which includes a parking area, covered court, port manager’s quarter or Day Care Center, and drainage system. “The improved port of Makar will now offer safer, comfortable, and a more convenient port experience to passengers, while ensuring a faster turnaround for vessels, cargo trucks, and other ancillary service providers,” it said. Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency
Philippine Resources - October 11, 2021
Duterte opens PH’s ‘most scenic’ airport in Bicol
Photo: Bicol International Airport (Presidential photo) President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday afternoon inaugurated commercial domestic operations at the Bicol International Airport (BIA) after 11 years of delay. The PHP5 billion international airport facility in Daraga, Albay, will start receiving commercial domestic flights on Thursday and will be ready for international flights a month later. Duterte, in his speech, said the completion of the world-class airport facility will provide better transportation for people who are traveling to and from the Bicol Region. “Indeed, today’s inauguration is another milestone in the administration’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program. We are fulfilling our mission of improving the lives of Filipinos by providing quality infrastructure projects that allow greater connectivity and mobility, create more jobs, and boost economic activity in other regions,” he said. The construction of the airport created 755 jobs with 1,100 more indirect jobs expected to become available once the airport begins commercial operations, according to the Department of Transportation (DOTr). Duterte expressed optimism that the BIA, touted as “most scenic gateway” with the iconic Mayon Volcano for its backdrop, would also treat visitors to an “unforgettable travel experience.” “I am confident that once fully operational, this airport will be able to serve the needs of an expected 2 million passengers annually and provide efficiency, reliability, and safety standards to ensure modern airport,” he added. He congratulated the DOTr, local officials, and project partners including the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines for turning BIA into a reality after an 11-year delay. Duterte urged the management and staff of the BIA to ensure that passengers will get “the best quality of service they deserve.” “Let us look forward to a stronger and more vibrant future of the entire Bicol Region and its surrounding provinces,” he said. Meanwhile, Duterte also took pride in recalling what he told his economic managers to make Davao, his home region, the last priority for infrastructure projects. “In hindsight, one of the things disappointed ang taga Davao, di ba sinabi ko sa lahat sa Cabinet, the funds, walang political alignments, walang political color (In hindsight, one of the things the people of Davao are disappointed in is that I told my Cabinet members that there should be no political alignments, no political color). It will be distributed equally. But there was one caveat na sinabi ko kay [Transport Secretary] Art [Tugade], unahin niyo ang ibang lugar huwag ang Davao (I told Art, prioritize other regions, not Davao),” he said. The feasibility study of the BIA originally started in 1996 and the notice to proceed was issued in July 2009. It was supposed to have been finished in 2016. Construction works for the runway, taxiway, apron, and fences were mostly left uncompleted in 2012, and budget was reverted to the national treasury. It was only when the Duterte administration came in 2016 that the construction of Landside Facilities (Project 2A) began. Runway extension and the construction of the Passenger Terminal Building (Project 2B) began in 2017. By Azer Parrocha
Philippine Resources - June 09, 2021
Terminal 2 of Clark International Airport to Open in July
Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Art Tugade led a recent inspection of the New Passenger Terminal Building (PTB) of Clark International Airport (CRK) in Pampanga. The inspection conducted is part of the preparation for the upcoming opening of the new CRK Terminal. With Luzon International Premiere Airport Development (FLIPAD) Corporation President Bi Yong Chungunco, personally circulated by Sec. Tugade inside the new terminal to see construction progress. Secretary Tugade is also with DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan, to discuss the layout of the map route alignment for the North-South Commuter Railway Extension (NSCREx) project that will connect to CRK underground station. On July 2021, the new airport terminal for domestic operations is set to be launched, which will be followed by the opening of international operations in September 2021. It's estimated that it will be up to 12.2 million passengers who can service the new terminal will be open and full scale operations, triple the number compared to the current 4.2 million passengers it serves every year (before the pandemic). This project will help a lot in the long term economic growth of the country, tourism growth, especially in providing employment and other opportunities for our countrymen. In fact, more than 1,600 workers have also been given the opportunity to be part of the project in the midst of the pandemic and it is expected that the number of jobs will be increased by the time the new terminal of Clark International Airport project is finished. "You wait and see a real 'world class' terminal. It's coming up, it's coming up in Clark. Thanks to LIPAD, the men and women of Clark International Airport are really very good," galak na pahayag ni Secretary Tugade. DOTr Assistant Secretary for Aviation and Airports Jim Melo, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Chief of Staff and Airport Projects Team Head Atty. Danjun Lucas, and other representatives from FLIPAD Corp. Article Courtesy of the Department of Transport
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Philippine Resources - September 27, 2022
PH-EITI holds first meeting under Marcos admin, approves plan to improve multi-stakeholder engagement in the extractives
Photo credit: PH-EITI The Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PH-EITI) convened its first Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) meeting under the Marcos administration on Friday (September 16), two weeks after the country reaffirmed its commitment to implement the EITI. EITI is the global standard for transparency and accountability in the oil, gas, and mining sectors. The MSG – the body that governs EITI implementation in the country – is chaired by the Department of Finance (DOF) and composed of representatives from government, industry, and civil society. The government began implementing the EITI in 2013 pursuant to Section 14 of Executive Order No. 79, s. 2012 and Executive Order No. 147, s. 2013 that created the PH-EITI. “This meeting demonstrates the government’s continuing commitment to improve transparency and accountability in the extractive industries,” said Finance Undersecretary and PH-EITI Focal Person and Chair Cielo Magno. To improve resource governance, the MSG agreed to strengthen spaces for multi-stakeholder participation and advocate for more spaces along the extractive industry value chain. The group also agreed to include an MSG report on the status of civic engagement in the annual country report. The MSG also discussed remaining initiatives for 2022, including the production of the FY 2021 PH-EITI Country Report, the 2022 National Conference, and a planned visit of EITI Chair and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark to the Philippines in November 2022. The PH-EITI publishes independently reconciled data on oil, gas, coal, and mineral resources through an annual and comprehensive country report. To date, the PH-EITI has produced seven country reports, reconciling over P362.5 billion in government revenues from extractive projects from 2012 to 2019. Aside from disclosing extractives data to inform research and policy recommendations, the PH-EITI also provides space for multi-stakeholder participation in resource governance. Article courtesy of the Department of Finance
Philippine Resources - September 27, 2022
Marcos admin commits to transparency and good governance in the extractive industries
Photo credit: EITI / CC BY-SA The Marcos administration demonstrated its commitment to pursue transparency in natural resource governance by rejoining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and enabling the continued development of the mining sector. In a letter to EITI Chair and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno cited the value of good governance and anti-corruption measures in maximizing the extractive sector’s contribution to resource mobilization and sustainable economic growth. EITI will complement the administration’s agenda on transparency and accountability. “We welcome the opportunity to re-engage in EITI. We also commend the progress of the EITI Board in reviewing the validation standard and making it more relevant to implementing countries. We believe that EITI is an important tool for resource-rich countries like the Philippines to improve transparency and increase accountability in the management and governance of the extractive industries,” said Secretary Diokno. Secretary Diokno said that other government agencies, as well as industry and civil society stakeholders who have been actively implementing EITI in the country, are supportive of the move to rejoin the global initiative. On June 20, 2022, the Philippines through the Department of Finance (DOF) withdrew its participation in the EITI over concerns on metrics and procedures used for assessing country compliance with the international organization’s transparency requirements. In an August 23, 2022 letter, EITI Chair Helen Clark invited Secretary Diokno to re-state the country’s commitment to the EITI on behalf of the Marcos administration and build on the progress that the Philippines has achieved in the past nine years. The PH-EITI multi-stakeholder group is chaired by the DOF and is composed of representatives from government, industry, and civil society. The government began implementing the EITI in 2013 pursuant to Section 14 of Executive Order No. 79, s. 2012 and Executive Order No. 147, s. 2013 that created the Philippine EITI (PH-EITI). Annual disclosure of contracts, financial, economic, social and environmental data is mandatory for extractive industries pursuant to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2017-07. To date, the PH-EITI has produced seven country reports, covering data from mining, oil, gas, and coal industries and reconciling over P362.5 billion in government revenues from extractive projects from 2012 to 2019. In 2017, the Philippines was recognized by the EITI as the first among 50 plus countries in the world to have fully complied with the 2016 EITI Standard. The EITI updates its standard every three years and subjects member countries to validation to ascertain their compliance. Secretary Diokno said that the Marcos administration is committed to engage and unite various stakeholders in pursuing good governance and policy reforms in the country. “Rest assured that we remain committed to pursuing good governance in the extractive sector,” said Secretary Diokno. Article courtesy of the Department of Finance
Philippine Resources - September 26, 2022
Metro Manila Subway project nominated for int’l digital awards
Artist rendering of the Metro Manila Subway (Photo courtesy of DOTr) The Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) has been named as one of the finalists at the 2022 Going Digital Awards in Infrastructure for the best use of infrastructure software to save both time and money. The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said the general consultant for the MMSP Phase 1, the Japanese consortium Oriental Consultants Global (OC Global), developed a common digital engineering system and a “single source of truth” using ProjectWise and ComplyPro -- both programs by Bentley Software Inc. The MMSP, the DOTr said, presented communication and coordination challenges that other software programs failed to address. “The project team at OC Global realized that the implementation of collaborative BIM workflows, proactive risk management, and cost monitoring would require a connected data environment to be established,” it said. The system developed by OC Global for the MMSP enabled real-time data sharing that optimized collaboration -- saving an estimated 5,000 resource hours within the project’s first six months. “Combined with SYNCHRO for construction simulation, Bentley’s integrated technology solution identified and resolved 50 clashes, eliminating rework, shortening the project schedule, and saving costs. The successful BIM (Building Information Modeling) implementation has already achieved a return of investment of over USD600,000,” it said. The Going Digital Awards in Infrastructure is an annual event meant to honor Bentley software users for advancing infrastructure design, construction, and operations worldwide. The event’s finalists are deemed to demonstrate “excellence and digital advancements” in their respective award categories. The award winners will be announced during the program’s main event in London on Nov. 15. By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency
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