Manila Bulletin

Erap determined to sell Rizal Memorial


The sale and conversion of the prewar Rizal Memorial Sports Complex (RMSC) into a commercial center will push through despite stiff opposition from heritage advocates and sports organizati­ons, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada said yesterday.

Estrada said the city government plans to use the property into something more beneficial to city residents.

“It is still owned by the City of Manila. May usufruct (rights) lang ang PSC (Philippine Sports Commission),” Estrada said of the 8.4-hectare land located in the heart of the tourist belt area of Malate and Ermita.

Athletes have opposed the sale saying its central location made it convenient for them as many of them study in Metro Manila while those who do not, live nearby.

Heritage advocates, on the other hand, want to preserve it for its historical significan­ce and, like athletes and other opposition­ists, prefer to have the complex renovated and upgraded.

“What the mayor should do,” said one athlete who do not wish to be identified, is to clean the surroundin­g area of vendors and improve traffic there to make it more livable.”

Defending the city government’s move, he pointed out that the conversion of RMSC is part of his administra­tion’s urban developmen­t program.

“Wala nang gumagamit. Wala nang kinikita. Luma na lahat. Paano pa mapapakina­bangan ng city? Wala na, antiquated na ang Rizal (Memorial Sports Complex),” Estrada said.

He said PSC needs a new worldclass sports center complete with athlete villages and modern training facilities, similar to the one being envisioned on a 100-hectare property in Clark, Pampanga that will be provided by the Bases Conversion Developmen­t Authority (BCDA).

Instead of continuing to be a “white elephant,” Estrada said they might as well use the property to earn income for the city government and provide needed funds for socio-developmen­t projects for the poor and underprivi­leged.

Earlier media reports said that the city government is in discussion­s with the Razon Group, owned by business tycoon Enrique Razon, which offered to buy it and convert it into a modern complex that will have commercial buildings, a mall, and a sports museum.

Once it gives up control over the sports complex, PSC will earn around R2 billion from the sale, enough, Estrada said, to build the new training center in Clark.

Built in 1934, the sports complex, including the Rizal Memorial Coliseum, survived World War II and hosted several internatio­nal sports events such as the Far Eastern Games, 1954 Asian Games and the Southeast Asian Games (SEA) in 1981, 1991, and 2005. The Beatles also held a concert there in 1966.

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