First of two parts
How time really flies! Four years ago, Benigno S. Aquino III became the President of the Republic of the Philippines on 30 June 2010. Yet it looks like Nothing Much has changed for the better for the good of our country and people. How sad for us, Filipinos.
Last Thursday, 26 June 2016, there was a heavy downpour in Metro Manila for close to one-hour from three to four in the afternoon. Immediately thereafter, there was flooding in major thoroughfares in the metropolis. The traffic along C-5 Road in Taguig was moving at a snail’s pace from the corner of Kalayaan Avenue in Makati towards the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX).
Amazing that after four years, the Department of Public Works & Highways (DWPH), which President B.S Aquino 3rd is so proud of, cannot even fix the flooding in just two sections of C-5. It took two hours for vehicles to navigate the floodwaters since they could only use one out of the three to four lanes per direction. The other lanes were under water. Columnists have written about the flooding in C-5 way back in 2011, but to no avail.
There was also heavy flooding along President Osmeña Highway (continuation of SLEX) near Buendia Avenue (now Sen. Gil Puyat Ave.) as reported in both mainstream (radio and television) and social media (Facebook). This explains why the traffic at SLEX in late afternoon and evening was very light because vehicles got stuck at C-5 and Osmeña Ave.
It makes you wonder why President Aquino commended the performance of DPWH and even gave them a bonus during their 115th anniversary June last year !
Public works and transportation
The most visible accomplishments of any administration is what the public see on the road in terms of public infrastructure and transportation. However, the Aquino presidency hardly has anything to show to the Filipino people and foreigners alike. There are no new expressways – elevated or at grade, no new domestic airports or seaports to speak of that could have been completed in four years.
During the time of President V. Ramos, there was the world-class rehabilitation of the 84-km North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), the 16-km elevated Skyway on top of SLEX and the new 22-km Star Express in Batangas from Sto. Tomas to Lipa City. Not many people know that the 94-km Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) got started during the short term (2.5 years) of President Joseph “Erap” Estrada.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo completed the SCTEX in 2008. She started the 89-km Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX), the continuation of SCTEX to Northern Luzon. Former President Arroyo also extended the Star Express (20 kms) to Batangas City and connected it to the SLEX through a 7.3-km link road. Lastly, the 14-km Cavite Expressway (Cavitex) along the Manila Bay was also built during Arroyo’s term.
P-Noy’s PPP projects & MRT3
Even with the much-vaunted Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects, both the Department of Transportation (DoTC) and the DPWH hardly have anything to show, but issues and controversies. The only new airport projects are the Mactan-Cebu Airport and the Puerto Princesa Airport awarded by the DoTC this year. Yet they are mired by questions about the financial capability of the winning bidders and their performance track records.
The Filipino-Indian consortium of MegaWide & GMR won the Mactan-Cebu Airport, but Senator Sergio Osmeña III has asked the Supreme Court to stop what he believed is an anomalous award by the DoTC. The Korean company Kumho won the contract for the Puerto Princesa Airport in Palawan. However in this, DoTC apparently violated two of its own rules that they promulgated, but that would be another story.
With the DPWH, the 4-km P900-million SLEX-Daan Hari Link Road that was awarded to Ayala Land, Inc. on December 2011 did not move for two years. It is only in the past six months of 2014 that work has begun to be done. The Link Road should have been completed before the contract awarding in late 2011. However, the DPWH stole the PNCC-NDC project that began in 2009 and repackaged it as “PPP” project of P-Noy.
On public transportation, it appears that a hallmark of the Aquino administration is in inflicting suffering to the Filipino people whom the President professes are his “Boss!” This is most evident in the long queues of passengers at MRT3 that have spilled over to the different stations on the street along EDSA. Even Filipinos living overseas could not believe the suffering caused by the President’s incompetence.
However, instead of addressing the overuse and abuse of MRT3 by giving the concession to the private sector, the DoTC’s MRTA officials wanted to do on their own the buying of the urgently needed coaches. Later, the Ambassador of the Czech Republic accused the MRT General Manager of trying to extort $30 Million (P1.3 Billion) for a P3.7 Billion contract (2012) from a Czech coach supplier whose Chairman & CEO has confirmed the allegation.
No concrete achievement in public infra
At this juncture, President Aquino cannot show any concrete achievement for significant public infra and transportation project worth over P1.0 Billion. Hopefully, P-Noy will not cite the 14.4 km Iloilo Circumferential Road worth P1.9 Billion that is obscenely overpriced. The dubious DPWH project came from the notorious Disbursement Acceleration Program Fund (DAP) whose constitutionality or not the Supreme Court will decide soon.
The project proponent of the P1.9 Billion Iloilo Circumferential Road is no other than Senate President Franklin Drilon, the most prominent son of Iloilo and Panay, who is also a Liberal Party stalwart or heavyweight and close ally and friend of President Aquino.