Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
Between the National Economic and Development Authority of the Republic of the Philippines and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of The Netherlands
on the Sustainable Development of the Manila Bay

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary

January 22, 2018

Her Excellency Marion Derckx, Ambassador of The Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Republic of the Philippines,
My colleagues in the Philippine Government and the NEDA,
Members of the media who are here, distinguished guests, and partners in development,
Good morning.

This is indeed a momentous occasion, which has to do with signing an MOU on an issue that is of critical importance: the balance between the growth of the economy and the sustainability of the environment.

I am honored, therefore, to be here today. This is the first day of the NEDA anniversary week so this is really a good, timely occasion for the signing of this MOU. I am here on behalf of our President Duterte to join Her Excellency Marion Derckx in signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between NEDA and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of The Netherlands concerning cooperation in the sustainable development of the Manila Bay Area.

Manila Bay is famed, especially among tourists and visitors, for the sight of its glorious sunset. It once was. But more than an attraction, it has been playing an important role as a gateway to the Philippines. Dating back to pre-colonial times, trade and commerce between the Philippines and its neighboring countries have flourished here, allowing socioeconomic and industrial development to spur in the National Capital Region (NCR) or Metro Manila and its surrounding areas. Manila Bay was also a witness to fierce naval battles and the nationalism shown by our heroes of Bagumbayan, all of which were tipping points in our history.

However, in stark contrast to its breath-taking sunset and colorful history is its coastline littered today with debris and all kinds of waste. Rapid industrialization, urbanization, and impacts of global climate change have put the Bay under constant threat, resulting in the decline of the water quality and deterioration of its marine life.

The Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022 recognizes the crucial importance of the environment and natural resources in the country’s development. We must strike a balance between the growth of the economy and the environment sustainability. Thus, the PDP outlines aggressive strategies to rehabilitate and restore degraded natural resources and to protect fragile ecosystems while improving the welfare of resource-dependent communities.

We note that the MOU will foster collaboration among organizations involved in the formulation of the Manila Bay Sustainable Development Master Plan (MBSDMP). This master plan aims to provide a comprehensive institutional framework that will guide decisions on programs and projects for the sustainable development and management of the Metro Manila Bay area. We envision the execution of this plan to benefit generations to come.

We are fortunate to have the Dutch with us in this endeavor. Their extensive knowledge and experience in implementing programs and projects that protect vulnerable coastal zones are unparalleled. They have developed integrated and innovative solutions to coastal management that mimic natural processes, instead of working against natural processes. These infrastructure solutions, thereby, help boost their economy and food supply, among others, while ensuring that their coastal areas are protected. This is a testament that economic development and ecological objectives could go hand in hand. Having The Netherlands as a partner in this undertaking is valuable to our country and we would like to thank them sincerely for working with us towards the sustainable development of the Manila Bay.

Let us emphasize, nevertheless that this is a collective and collaborative effort, and not merely a government-to-government undertaking. Active stakeholder involvement is also crucial to the success of this undertaking.

This signing is only the beginning of the enormous and challenging tasks ahead of us. This is not only a symbol of our partnership with The Netherlands, but a solid commitment to the sustainable development of the Manila Bay area so that future generations of Filipinos can still witness this proud heritage of ours. May this cooperation signal the end of years of neglect, and the birth of a culture that is environmentally conscious and ever caring.

Thank you and mabuhay tayong lahat!