Our cities need open spaces, not more concrete
Last Nov. 5, the National Capital Region (NCR) was placed under alert level 2 by order of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases. The relaxation of community quarantine protocols was akin to releasing water from a dam. Cabin fever, which has been afflicting us since the start of the pandemic in 2020, finally found a “cure,” so to speak. Families excitedly visited malls, restaurants, and other public spaces in droves, towing babies in strollers, etc.
As a health care worker, I was upset and scared to see this spectacle of cabin fever “freedom.” Although the number of active cases is going down, still we should not let our guard down. COVID-19 is still very much around and there are people dying from it, especially among those who are unvaccinated. The congregation of space-deprived individuals (due to lockdowns, home quarantines, etc.) in shopping malls led me to ponder on the need for more open green spaces in Metro Manila or any urban area. In Metro Manila, any available open space is gobbled up either for commercial use (paid parking lots, infrastructure, etc.) or for residential use (condos, subdivisions). In First World countries, there are designated spaces for parks where people can rest, relax, jog, exercise, or simply breathe in clean air while listening to the chirping of birds and insects amid a pocket of green within the city. Sadly, this is not the case for our urban areas here in the Philippines. There is a scarcity of living, green, breathing spaces.
The proposed National Land Use Act (NLUA) has been pending in Congress since 1987. Its passage into law has been obstructed by very influential representatives who own big businesses that will be affected by the bill’s passage. The aim of the NLUA is very noble and will be our gift to future generations: It classifies land use for the following: 1. Protection (for conservation); 2. Production (for agriculture and fisheries); 3. Settlements development (for residential purposes), and; 4. Infrastructure development (for transportation, communication, water resources).
It is 2021, and a few months away from a new leadership taking over the government. Hopefully, the bill will see the light and be implemented ASAP before we are swallowed up by concrete.
PAMELA I. CLAVERIA, M.D., [email protected]
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