Gov’t development program to enhance greenery, space, convert flooded spaces

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By Lara Climaco i FilAm Star Correspondent

Little pockets of greenery are being built across 143 cities in the Philippines, courtesy of a parallel program to the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program. Called “Green, Green, Green” to reflect the emphasis on greening public spaces, the program has a budget of PHP2.59 billion for this year through the Local Government Support Fund – Assistance to Cities. This fund was launched last year by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

“It assists the Philippines’ 145 cities and their local government units (LGUs) in making their communities more livable, sustainable and well-connected through the development or enhancement of public open space by creating esplanades, parks, arboretum or botanical gardens, and building bike lanes, walkways and green infrastructure,” the DBM said in a press release last week.

So far, 100 cities have made progress in preparing project proposals. Nationwide, 143 expressed interest in availing of the funding, the DBM said. Most of the submissions entail park development specifically in 54 cities. Waterfronts were selected by 25 other cities, while 20 are proposing to beautify public squares and plazas. Street improvements such as eco-friendly fixtures and shading were outlined by 13 cities, while 10 others will build new government centers.

Of the 124 total submissions so far, only two proposals involved mangrove parks.In Mandaue City, PHP12 million will be used to add new facilities at the Mandaue City Mangrove Eco-Park such as assembly and receiving areas, a bamboo boardwalk and a viewing deck to attract more tourism. A fishpond will be introduced in the mangrove area along with bird blinds, a nursery and a watchtower. Similar improvements will be made atthe Mangrovetum in Masbate City, where PHP9 million will be spent to make the facility more accessible to visitors with a convenient entrance and a drop-off driveway.

River parks with spaces for relaxation and lanes for walking, jogging and biking will be built in Bacoor, Dasmariñas, Bago, Malabon and Parañaque.

A unique concept is the wet park in Iligan City, which is converting a frequently flooded site near its government center into a water plaza similar to those in Rotterdam and Copenhagen. During dry season, the plaza will function as a park where people can converge and relax. During the rainy season, it transforms into a stormwater catchbasin that would prevent flooding in the city. Iligan City is spending PHP37 million to build its wet park.

One of the biggest projects under the Green, Green, Green program is the redevelopment of Paseo del Mar in Zamboanga City. The jump-off point to the Great Santa Cruz Island, which hasthe only pink sand beach in the Philippines, Paseo del Mar is located on a major seaside boulevard and provides views of the Sulu Sea. Under the re-development project, the park will be connected to Zamboanga City’s heritage zone and neighboring alleys through landscaping and uniform, non-skid pavements. Speed tables will also be introduced in the area to make the entire corridor walkable. Rows of native Zamboanga trees and shrubs will be planted around the area to distinguish the zone and protect pedestrians and bikers from vehicle traffic. Zamboanga City gets PHP74 million for this re-development project.

Native plant species will also be highlighted at the Amparo Nature’s Park in Caloocan City, a 2-hectare site which the city government opened in 2016. With funding from Green, Green, Green, the Caloocan City LGU plans to restore the lagoon that once served as the area’s flood retention pond. Boating will be introduced there as an added attraction in the nature park. The LGU also plans to build an aviary, koi pond, butterfly garden and an artificial waterfall and swimming pool in the area.

“LGSF-AC promises Green, Green, Green because cities and their people benefit from better air, shade, cooler climates, less flooding, and beauty. In line with the National Greening Program, the fund therefore aims to increase the softscape of a city,” the DBM said.

Native and local plant species will be showcased in the projects to support existing eco-systems and prevent the endangerment of species. “Filipinos can thus expect to see commonly used native trees such as ditas, balayong and mangium in the many projects under Green, Green, Green, as well as special appearances such as the Palawan cherry tree and rizophora—one of 39 species of Philippine mangrove—in projects where these are locally found,” according to the DBM.

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