By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Foreign and local groups have expressed interest to execute the multi-billion Water Eco-Tourism Hub Master Plan of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Masterplan, which will be implemented through Public-Private Partnership (PPP).
MWSS Administrator Reynaldo Velasco said the plan is to build an eco-tourism development like the world-famous theme park Disneyland inside complex in Balara, Quezon City.
“Since this is PPP, we are open to proposals. It still depends because we still have to establish the Terms of Reference,” Velasco told reporters.
According to Velasco, there have been groups who wanted to present their proposals.
“There’s this group, China-Taiwan-Hong Kong group, and Holland-Netherland group, that are interested. They will all have a Filipino counterpart,” he added.
But of course, the project will also be open to purely local players. “Ayala Group may also be interested,” Velasco added.
Velasco said that the government will be choosing a developer based on the project that they will be proposing and how much revenues the government will get from it.
“They might want to build a theme park like Disneyland and it’s okay,” he said.
The development of the Water Eco-Tourism Hub Master Plan is part of MWSS’ plan to bring new avenues for growth and revenues for the agency.
The masterplan was designed by World-Class Urban Planner Architect Felino “Jun” Palafox.
The exact plan is to transform the 79-hectare Old Balara Picnic Grove into a water eco-tourism hub and to make it environment-compliant.
“This grand plan also jibes with the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program of President Rodrigo Duterte as well as our vision to build a water and environment institute to better serve the present and future generations,” said Velasco.
“Having proven that we have collectively experienced successful Water Public-Private Partnership in the last 20 years through a workable concession agreement, I am confident that this Palafox Master Plan will become a reality under the Duterte administration,” he added.
According to Palafox, the master plan will try to snake around the trees or between the trees which will be a model community, a community within a forest or a forest within a community.
“I think this will be a classic sample of Public-Private Partnership and everyone will be a stakeholder,” Palafox said.
“This can be a model also on how to make places walkable, bikeable, livable, safer, more sustainable, and more resilient. Plus, this is our gift to the whole country where we can live peacefully in a patriotic, humanist and architectural society,” he added.
The unveiling of the MWSS Palafox Master Plan is among the highlights of the MWSS 140th celebration and the successful 20 years of Public-Private Partnership instituted by former President Fidel V. Ramos in 1997.
Velasco said the bidding for the project will happen within the year.
“May the best man win, in all transparency,” he further said.