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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, July 4, 2016
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Benitez wants seat of gov't
moved out of Metro Manila

Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3 rd District) yesterday said he has filed a bill before the House of Representatives for the conduct of a study on the feasibility of relocating the capital and seat of government of the Philippines outside Metro Manila.

The proposed “Administrative Capital City Planning Act of 2016” calls for the creation of an administrative capital city planning commission to conduct the study, and for the allocation of funds for the purpose.

Overpopulation, traffic congestion and high vulnerability to natural disasters have made Metropolitan Manila or the National Capital Region a pariah among world cities, Benitez said in his explanatory note.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, Metro Manila was home to 11.9 million people in 2010, making it one of the world's most densely populated cities, he said.

Traffic congestion costed P2.4 billion daily in lost productivity in 2012, according to the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and the amount could balloon to as much as P6 billion daily if the situation is not addressed by 2030, Benitez added.

Metro Manila also sits above a fault line which could trigger massive and destructive earthquake, he said, pointing out that a 2014 poll by Swiss Re, an international reinsurance company found Metro Manila to be the world's second riskiest ‘city' in terms of natural disasters waiting to happen.

Meanwhile, according to the 5th Natural Hazards Risk Atlas (2015) by Verisk Maplecroft, Manila is 4th most vulnerable city to disasters like earthquakes and typhoons, Benitez said.

Another major concern is the increasing number of informal settler families (ISFs) in Metro Manila. Out of the 1.5 Million ISFs in the country, nearly 600,000 are found in NCR, he said.

The off-city relocation programs of the government for the ISFs have only led to failure because many of the relocatees return to NCR because the relocation areas are far from their source of income, Benitez added.

There is therefore a need to rethink and develop a masterplan that will decongest Metro Manila, he said.

Relocation of capitals have already been done by several countries, he said, citing Malaysia that built a new administrative capital to decongest Kuala Lumpur. Putrajaya is envisioned to be a “green” and “intelligent” city, with wide parks and open spaces, and strong ICT infrastructure, he said.

Its aesthetical design also shows distinct Islamic character to reflect Malaysian identity and heritage as a predominantly-Muslim country, Benitez said.

Brazil relocated its capital to a more central location, closer to other regions and carved a new city out of wilderness in the Brazilian Highlands. Inaugurated in 1960, Brasilia stands as a prime example of modern urban planning and the only city in the world built in the 20 th century to be named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, he said.

South Korea is also in the process of transferring most of its government offices to a new administrative capital called Sejong City, Benitez said.

Benitez said his bill proposes the creation of an Administrative Capital City Planning Commission to lead the development of a comprehensive plan to relocate the government agencies and establish an administrative capital city outside Metro Manila.*CPG



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