As I See It

Lim: Financial center to rise in Manila


There is an offer from a Korean consortium to build a $4-billion financial center in Manila’s Port Area, with a 63-story tower, the tallest in the Philippines. While still under construction, which is expected to take four to five years, it will need thousands of construction workers, thus easing the unemployment crisis. When finished, it will need 150,000 more employees in its various offices.

Everyone thinks it is a good project, including President Aquino. The trouble is the government land where it is to be built, Port Area, is controlled by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), which is blocking the project. After many meetings with Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and the heads of several government agencies, during which the architectural, engineering and investment plans were presented, everyone, including the PPA, said it was a good idea. But the PPA subsequently hemmed and hawed and later said it had other plans for the property. It didn’t show those plans, however.

These facts were revealed by Mayor Lim at the Kapihan sa Manila at the Diamond Hotel last Monday, where he was the principal guest. The other guests were former Rep. Risa Hontiveros, now a Team PNoy senatorial candidate, and Senior Supt. Robert Po, deputy operations chief of the Manila Police District (MPD), and Judge Rodolfo Pallatao, law dean of the city-owned Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM).

Now what is the problem with the PPA? Here is a project that would be good not only for itself and the city of Manila but also for the whole Philippines. Why is the PPA blocking it? It has other plans for the property, it said. What plans? It doesn’t say.

By itself, the PPA cannot hope to build in a thousand years the financial center that the Korean consortium is offering to construct with its own money. No loans from Philippine banks. The consortium is even offering to deposit in advance the $4-billion investment in Philippine banks because the interest rates being paid by banks in Korea are very low. Think of what that $4 billion will do to our economy and the jobs the project will create for our workers.

The President, accompanied by Cabinet members and Filipino businessmen, travel all over the world (at enormous cost to Filipino taxpayers) to entice foreigners to invest in the Philippines. Usually, they come home with a few hundred million dollars worth of promised investments that usually take many years to materialize. But here is an offer of $4 billion invested immediately in the Philippines, and everyone in government is gung ho for it except, mysteriously, an agency like the PPA that unfortunately controls the property.

The project will perk up Manila, the Pearl of the Orient Seas which, because most of its buildings are old, is decaying. Why are gleaming high-rise condominiums and office buildings going up all over Metro Manila but not in Manila? Because, Mayor Lim discovered, there is an old Manila ordinance limiting the height of buildings in the city to only nine stories. Developers told Lim that, considering the price of land in Manila, they would lose money if they construct only 9-story buildings. They need to construct tall buildings to earn a profit, they said.

What does the National Building Code say? the mayor asked. What is the height limit?

Answer: No limit.

All right, then, Mayor Lim said, follow the National Building Code, not the Manila ordinance which he would have repealed anyway.

As a result of this decision, a number of high-rise buildings are sprouting all over Manila. One of the tallest will rise in Binondo.

Going back to the proposed financial center, maybe President Aquino should talk with PPA officials and find out what’s on their minds. The South Harbor will not be touched. On the contrary, it will be enhanced, improved, developed and beautified. And it will double, triple, or even quadruple the income of the PPA.

* * *

On other fronts, Mayor Lim boasted that Manila is the only city in the Philippines with six public hospitals, one for each of the six districts and owned and operated by the city. These hospitals provide free hospitalization, treatment, and medicines for the city’s indigent patients.

Manila also has two universities, the PLM and City College, more than 300 high schools and 700 elementary schools. All of them provide free education to residents. There is no classroom shortage in Manila, Lim said. And do you know that PLM graduates top the nursing examinations and have a 90-percent passing rate in government board examinations?

On the police front, do you know that almost a third of the entire Manila force is used every single day just to watch and contain the many marches and demonstrations of activists in the city? Almost daily, there are demonstrations in front of the US Embassy, Department of Justice and Supreme Court, on Mendiola, at Plaza Bonifacio, during demolition operations at squatter areas, etc., Senior Superintendent Po said. MPD members have to be there to make sure the demonstrations do not deteriorate into a riot.

Thus, the MPD is left with precious little manpower for crime prevention, detection and solution, Po said. And although the Metro Manila Development Authority helps in traffic enforcement, the bulk of the work is still left with the MPD.

* * *

For her part, Risa Hontiveros said that if she is elected senator (she finished 13th, only one rank outside the winning circle, in the last senatorial elections), her advocacy would be women and health. She said she would also work for the abolition of the pork barrel, one of the root causes of corruption. For this reason, I urge voters to vote for her in May.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

More from this Column:

Other Stories:

No related posts found!

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=46785

Tags: Alfredo Lim , MANILA , Philippine Ports Authority

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • 43 out of 414 Etihad passengers yet to be found, tested for MERS-CoV – Palace
  • Maid confesses in killing of 2 and stabbing of employer in Laguna
  • N. Korea finally offers condolences over ferry tragedy
  • 16 CADPI sugar refinery workers now out of danger after toxic shower in Batangas
  • PNP denies Purisima’s involvement in questionable deal with courier firm
  • Sports

  • UP nips St. Benilde; Adamson blasts RTU in Filoil women’s caging
  • Kevin Garnett responds to Raptors’ GM F word
  • Albert Pujols hits 500th HR of major league career
  • UST posts twin kill in Filoil pre-season cup opening day
  • Wizards beat Bulls in OT to take 2-0 series lead
  • Lifestyle

  • Entering the monkhood a rite of passage
  • Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Entertainment

  • Bollywood Oscars, film stars come to Florida
  • Ex-Fox exec denies allegations in sex abuse suit
  • Kris Aquino backtracks, says Herbert Bautista and her are ‘best friends’
  • Summer preview: Chris Pratt enters a new ‘Galaxy’
  • Bon Jovi helps open low-income housing in US
  • Business

  • SM to rebuild Tacloban hospital
  • PSEi slips after 4-day rally
  • Toyota sells 2.58 million vehicles, outselling GM
  • McDonald’s 1Q profit slips as US sales decline
  • SEC approves SM’s P15B retail bond offer
  • Technology

  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Opinion

  • One-dimensional diplomacy: A cost-benefit analysis of Manila’s security deal with Washington
  • No ordinary illness
  • Reforest mountains with fire trees and their kind
  • Day of the Earth
  • When will Chinese firm deliver new coaches?
  • Global Nation

  • Filipinos coming home from Mideast must obtain MERS clearance – DOH
  • US Secret Service in Manila ahead of Obama visit
  • Palace thanks Estrada for successful HK mission
  • Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted
  • China won’t budge, wants PH gov’t to apologize to HK
  • Marketplace