A private entity is set to put up a mega vaccination site at the Nayong Pilipino, but construction is still on hold as the Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF) has yet to sign the memorandum of agreement.
In a statement, the NPF said that the property is “not a vacant lot but has a thriving urban forest that hosts a variety of urban wildlife and is the last remaining grassland in the reclaimed area of Parañaque.”
Likewise, environmental groups raised concerns about the cutting of more than 500 ipil-ipil trees to make way for mega-construction. The old Nayong Pilipino cultural theme park covers a 22-hectare area in the capital and is a reclaimed piece of land. (Read: Task Force Names Priority Areas for COVID-19 Vaccination)
“Iyong itatayo po doon sa Nayong Pilipino, makeshift po iyan, hindi po iyan permanente, parang mga tents lang din po iyan,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said. He was backed by the Department of Tourism who also expressed support for the “temporary vaccination center” that is intended to inoculate “at least 12,000 individuals” daily for free.
But why are environmental groups and the NPF itself against the project? Here are fast facts about it:
#1: The Project Can Cause Ecological Damage
The mega vaccination site is just makeshift tents, as per Harry Roque, and will not be a permanent building. However, the establishment of the center will require sacrificing at least 500 trees currently found in the site. (Read: CBCP Launches Nationwide Program for the Care of Environment)
According to the NPF, the cutting of 500 trees and other site works on the NPF property will destroy the ecosystem and “would be a disaster and a disservice to the residents of Metro Manila who need more green and open spaces.”
#2: Nayong Pilipino Is Home to a Variety of Wildlife
The NPF property is not a vacant lot but has a thriving urban forest that is home to a variety of urban wildlife. The site is a bird flyaway network and is close to the Las Piñas- Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area. With the proposed project, the urban forest will be converted to roads and parking lots— a part of the vaccination site.
#3: A Private Entity Will Run the Vaccination Site
Despite backing and pushing from the Duterte administration, the Department of Tourism confirmed that the mega vaccination site will operate under the management of the ICTSI Foundation— a part of the Razon group of companies, owner of Solaire Resort and Casino at Entertainment City.
This plan is contrary to Presidential Decree No. 1445, which states that government property shall be used solely for public purposes. A clarification has yet to be issued by the National Task Force Against COVID-19 and the DOH.
#4: Nayong Pilipino Is the Last Remaining Grassland in the Reclaimed Area of Parañaque
When the pandemic hit the Philippines, the lack of green spaces in Metro Manila has been a major issue. “The green and fresh environment that is open and free, a large public space that is much-needed by the people of Metro Manila, will be destroyed and will disappear,” heritage group Dakilang Pamana ng Lahi (Pamanlahi) said. (Read: Pope Urges Educators to Work Together Against Climate Change)
#5: Nayong Pilipino Is Already Hosting a Quarantine Facility Within Its Vicinities
The NPF has been supporting the government’s pandemic response by hosting a quarantine facility manned by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. As such, a mega-vaccination center close to the quarantine facility may pose a health risk on both healthy individuals securing their vaccines.
The NPF board added that they are currently developing a proposal to the DOH for vaccination in an urban forest. (Read: DENR Celebrates Earth Day With ‘Community Pan-TREE’)