USAID-led Laguna Lake project: Social-Ecological disaster in the making: Page 3 of 4

Posted on 3 November 2016

of the LLED project site areas to fault lines, an earthquake is a likely event. He writes:

Reclamation areas [. . .] closer to the fault zone are underlain by thick, water-saturated sediments. Any structures built there would experience catastrophic damage during a major WMV Fault earthquake. They would shake more strongly from the earthquake waves than structures sitting on solid rock. [. . .] While the earthquake lasts, its shaking would also transform the sediment and its water content into a liquid-like mixture without strength. Buildings would sink into it or topple. [8]

In his article in Philippine Science Letters , “On the geological hazards that threaten existing and proposed reclamations of Manila Bay,” Rodolfo debunks several misleading assertions by government officials in an attempt to promote the project, which reference “successful” reclamation projects in the past. Rodolfo explains,

The Department of Public Works and Highways has long ignored or minimized the problem of land subsidence in planning their expensive but ineffective flood-control projects [9][. . .]. It would not be surprising if reclamation planners also ignore subsidence to minimize costs and maximize profits, but thereby enhance risks. [10]

Given that much of the former Aquino administration’s reform efforts, as well as a significant focus for USAID technical assistance, related to the promotion of good governance in order to, among other things, better facilitate infrastructure projects, it is telling that DPWH lapses indicated by Rodolfo were allowed to persist. The issues ignored by DPWH are some of those with the greatest relevance for infrastructure provision. It might be interpreted as a case of technical assistance being freely offered by Rodolfo, a scientist with little apparent political motivation, only to be ignored by government officials in favor of USAID prescriptions, which are far from approaching Rodolfo’s level of impartiality. Whatever these officials’ motivations, the effect is an institutionalization of “good governance” practices that are proving to be very hostile to ordinary people.

*Portions of this article have been originally published in the Reality of Aid 2016 Report on Technical Cooperation as an Aid Modality.

[1] George M. Ingram, Anne E. Johnson and Helen Moser (2016), “USAID’s Public-Private Partnerships: A Data Picture and Review of Business Engagement” (Washington, DC: Brookings Institute), p. 30., accessed 5 Jun. 2016.

[2] USAID (2014), Advancing Philippine Competitiveness (COMPETE) Project: Year 2 Annual Report (Washington, DC: USAID), pp. 5‒6, accessed 16 Jun. 2016.

[3] Dennis Espada (2014), “Residents spur resistance to road dike, reclamation plans,” Bulatlat, 7 Nov.,, accessed 28 Jun. 2016.

[4] Asian Human Rights Commission (2015), “PHILIPPINES: Stop demolition against Laguna Lakeshore community in Taguig,” 8 May, Hunger Alerts,, accessed 29 Jun. 2016.

[5] In fact, displacements have been reported to accompany PPPs in numerous cases. The LRT Line 1 Cavite extension, for example, is also expected to entail displacement of many informal settlers.

[6] Evelyn Macairan (2016), “Church to campaign vs Laguna Lakeshore,” The Philippine Star , 31 Mar.,, accessed 5 Jun. 2016.

[7] Kelvin S. Rodolfo (2016), “The dangerous Laguna Lakeshore Expressway

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