You want parks, sidewalks, plazas? DBM has P2.5B for interested cities

MANILA, Philippines – Cities can now pitch to the national government projects that would improve or build parks and public open spaces.

In a press briefing on Wednesday, March 14, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) launched "Green, Green, Green," an assistance program that aims to create more "breathing spaces" by building parks, upgrading sidewalks, and improving plazas.

"At the end of the day, we want to make people happy. In the middle of stressful, dense, very loud, and polluted cities, having these open spaces back will get our sense of respite," Julia Nebrija, program head and urban planner, told reporters on Wednesday.

The government has allotted P2.5 billion for the program. Interested city governments can submit conceptual designs of proposed projects, which will be evaluated by a team in June. 

So far, the DBM has received 89 proposals, Nebrija said.

She added that open spaces are built not only for aesthetic purposes. They also function during crisis situations, such as fires and earthquakes. (READ: People's project: How Ilonggos turned a road into a riverside park)

The amount that a city government can access will depend on the city's land area and population, DBM Director Leila Rivera said. It will be directly downloaded to the local government units (LGUs) participating in the program.

Starting March 15, the DBM will organize technical workshops for city mayors and LGU officers on the importance of establishing open spaces in urban areas.

Nebrija said Iloilo City's Esplanade is among the inspirations for the program. The 1.2-kilometer riverside lateral park, which opened in 2012, is a popular site for joggers, bikers, tourists, and locals looking for some breathing space in the bustling hub in Western Visayas.

The assistance program is in line with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal that focuses on "making cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable." –

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.