Never-ending lies and corruption at the DPWH & DoTC

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Rick B. Ramos

Rick B. Ramos

Part V

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THIS is my fifth and final column in a series of articles about the Department of Public Works & Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Transportation & Communications (DoTC), who, to me, are the “Partners in Crime” in public infrastructure.

Of course, DoTC’s crimes go beyond public infra and extend even up to the new car plates that are not really needed and the plastic driver’s licenses with its notorious attached agency, the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

The Lies Never Seem to End with the DPWH, the beloved national government agency of President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd. The latest prevarication is now about the benefit of the P2.0 billion 4-km. Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway (MCX) when it opens.

Last Wednesday, July 22, 2015, the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) prominently published the latest lie of the DPWH that claims that the “New 4-km Munti-Cavite Road to Cut Trip by 45 minutes.” Of course, NOT!

How in heaven’s name can a 4-km new road cut travel time by three-fourths (3/4) of an hour? The DPWH must have forgotten that the “average of 45 minutes” in the alleged savings means that commuters will now be spared of a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 60 minutes of traffic. The average between the two figures is 45 minutes.

How can that happen when the travel time using the existing Commerce Ave.- Daang -Hari route in Alabang only takes about 30 minutes? Even on a worst-case scenario of a travel time of 45 minutes, how can the new 4-km road cut the trip shorter by an “average of 45 minutes” Unless of course, you do time travel without riding on any motor vehicle !
The Difference in Length of the present route and the new MCX is only 2-3 kms. So how can the savings in travel time by “an average of 45 minutes” be realized for a short difference of 2-3 kms in the length of the two routes?

Perhaps the DPWH and Secretary Singson can be the First Filipino organization and individual to win the prestigious Nobel Prize for such an astonishing achievement!
From the Fil-Invest tollbooth in Alabang to the exit of the MCX in Daang- Hari (passing Fil-Invest Ave. and Commerce Ave) is only 9-10 kms. From the same point in Alabang passing the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and to the exit of MCX in Daang- Hari is only 6-7 kms. Hence, the Difference in Length is only a short 2-3 kms.

The real estimated savings in travel time when the SLEX finally opens is only about 20 minutes. Why? Because it takes an average of 30 minutes to travel the present route of Fil-invest Ave. – Commerce Ave.–Daang-Hari. The estimated travel time using the new MCX, also known as the SLEX and Daang -Hari Link Road, is 10 minutes. So the “average of 45 minutes” cut in road trip given by the DPWH is actually more than Double!

Lastly, the name “MCX” for the Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway is a BIG Joke. First of all, MCX is only 4 kms long! This is about the same distance of 4 kms between the Alabang and Sucat exits at SLEX. So do we also call the said section of SLEX as the “Alabang-Sucat Expressway?” Absurd!

The term “expressway” or “motorway” is used for longer highways with lengths of at least 10 or even 20 kms. Not for highways with short distances.

Examples of expressways in the Philippines are the 14-km Cavite Expressway (Cavitex), the 42-km STAR Tollway and the 51-km South Luzon Expressway SLEX). Then there is the 84-km North Expressway (NLEX), the 94-km Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) and the 89-km Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX).

The original name of the SLEX-Daan Hari “Link Road” should have been maintained because the 4-km road links SLEX and Daang Hari, which are both in the City of Muntinlupa, Metro Manila. In fact, the “Link Road” passes through the edge of the sprawling New Bilibid Prison property in Muntinlupa, which will be given a new access.

The name “Muntinlupa Cavite Expressway” or “MCX” shows the mental dishonesty of the DPWH leadership. First, the 4-km new road is located in Muntinlupa and NOT Contiguous to the Province of Cavite. The MCX exit is in Muntinlupa and across Daang Hari is Las Piñas City with the huge Vista City real estate development projects (1,500 hectares) of former Senator Manuel Villar.

The distance between the exit of MCX to the Cavite section of Daang-Hari is about a kilometer and it is NOT an expressway! In fact, this is a short narrow four-lane section of about 3 kms up to the intersection in Molino, Bacoor, where the traffic builds up!

The SLEX-Daang Hari Link Road Anomaly

Why did the DPWH give the Daang-SLEX Link Road a more impressive name? This is to enhance its achievement, as well as to cover up its shortcoming or failure. This SHORT DPWH project is now on its Fourth Year and yet it could have been finished in only One Year! MCX is the first Public –Private Partnership (PPP) project of the DPWH under the Aquino administration that it could not even finish it in spite of its being very Short!
During his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in 2013, President B.S. Aquino 3rd cited the Link Road project in Muntinlupa as one of the accomplishments of his great administration. President Aquino exclaimed that the DPWH first PPP project was not tainted with corruption. Of course, it was not since it was just in the Bidding & Award stage at the time. Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI) won with its P902 million bid over San Miguel Corporation (SMC) bid of P608 million.

What PNoy did not tell the Filipino people and the world was that he, as President, simply stole the project from former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) and repackaged it as a PPP project so GMA cannot be given credit for it. This is sheer Hypocrisy and Mental Dishonesty of a President who boasts of having a Daang Matuwid government.

The construction of the Link Road started in August 2009 after a joint-venture company was formed with the partnership of the government’s Philippine National Construction Corporation (PNCC) and the National Development Company (NDC). When the DPWH under Secretary Singson shamelessly stopped the joint-venture project, it was already 30 percent and DPWH later compensated PNCC and NDC more than P300 million for what they have spent since 2009 coming from what Ayala paid with its P902 million.

After Ayala won the bid in December 2011, they could not proceed with the project because DPWH did something stupid. For those interested to know what happened, Daxim Lucas of the Philippine Daily Inquirer wrote a series of articles on the subject in November 2012. Mr. Lucas had earlier worked with the Manila Times and BusinessWorld.

After Aquiono’s SONA in 2013 praising the Link Road project, Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, a classmate and friend of the president, went on television to announce that he was now talking to both Ayala (where he used to work) and San Miguel Corporation which now has the concession of the SLEX (after buying the interest of MTD company). Secretary Almendras said he was working on a “win-win” solution for both Ayala and SMC.

Pathological Lying?

As I wrote in a previous column, this is the problem when the favorite DPWH of President Aquino LIES (almost always do): They Get Caught! It is amazing that Secretary Rogelio Singson, who is supposed to be an honest and decent person, allows all the lies and corruption that his department is telling and doing.

We at InfraWatch have caught the DPWH and Secretary Singson lying with their statements on the alleged savings. This is not the first time.

The problem with DPWH is its Bad Habit of padding its savings from travel time due to its new public works project (MCX) to savings in the costs of its projects. The latest claim of Secretary Rogelio Singson on its Savings Realized is P48 billion, which he declared on July 13, 2015 on ANC’s TalkBack with Ms. Tina Monzon-Palma. President B.S. Aquino 3rd cited the same savings last June 22 during the DPWH’s 117th anniversary.

The only problem is that Secretary Singson is caught LYING. His Letter to the Editor of the Inquirer published on 27 June 2015 said that the DPWH savings for five years “from July 2010 to the present” is only P39 Billion, Unless the DPWH managed to save almost P10 Billion in only a matter of weeks in June and July! Another Nobel Prize!

Rick B.Ramos at rbrpilipinas@gmail.com

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