In my column last week, I wrote on the dismal failure of the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd these past four years to address the perennial flooding problem of Metro Manila and the overuse and abuse of the Mass Rail Transit (MRT) 3. My article also touched on the inability of the national government to build new public works and transportation projects with its Public-Private Partnership (PPP) deemed as a failure.
An excellent example on how the incompetent Aquino administration vacillates is on the concession of the 94-km Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX). The Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) won in the bidding of SCTEX in 2010 during the term of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. So what happened? Why until today has the 25-year concession for the operation and management not been turned over to MPTC?
The SCTEX contract was awarded on June 9, 2010 to Manila North Tollway Corporation (MNTC), the flagship company of MPTC. In mid-July of the same year, MPTC President Ramoncito Fernandez said that the final contract was already drawn after the notice of the award was given by the Bases Conversation Development Authority (BCDA). MNTC also has the concession for the 84-km North Luzon Expressway (NLEX).
Mr. Fernandez was then optimistic that MPTC would take over the SCTEX “hopefully in less than two months” or by September 2010. However, in a span of four years, MPTC had to revise its offer three times just to sweeten the deal. This includes reducing the share of MPTC on toll and other revenues from 80 percent to 50 percent. But it is already July 2014 and the Aquino administration has not yet agreed to MPTC’s offer.
Another example is the 13-km NLEX-SLEX Connector Road linking the two major expressways in Luzon that was proposed to the Aquino administration in 2010. This will easily reduce the travel time from NLEX to SLEX and vice-versa from 45-60 minutes to only less than 15 minutes or 30-45 minutes. It could have been operational today if only President B. S. Aquino 3rd had approved the MPTC proposal four years ago.
Delay in motor vehicle stickers & plates
In the recent World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Manila, President Aquino and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima rhapsodized on the achievements of the Aquino administration, the national government, in the past four years. Mr Purisima claimed that the president “has turned around the country from being ‘the sick man of Asia’ to an economic comeback story.”
Yet when it comes to simple, basic services of government, the Aquino presidency apparently cannot deliver. The pathetic failure is most evident when the Land Transportation Office (LTO) cannot even issue basic things such as stickers of motor vehicles whose registrations have been renewed and plate numbers for new vehicles purchased. Imagine having no plates on your new car for at least half a year.
This has never happened before in our country in the past 50 years since the mid-1960s as far as I can remember. Again, just imagine simple stickers for the car plates cannot be given to owners of motor vehicles until six months later. The same goes for metal plates with the numbers for new vehicles. The LTO, under Asec Virginia Torres up to October 2013, is as hopeless as the DOTC, which has jurisdiction over the pathetic LTO.
Lousy NAIA airports in Metro Manila
The four lousy airport terminals in Metro Manila attest to a Do-Nothing P-Noy presidency. The General Manager of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), retired Brig. General Jose Angel Honrado, cannot even fix the air-conditioning in the Ninoy Aquino International Airports (NAIA). A relative of President Aquino, Honrado epitomizes the incompetence and the “no-can-do” capability of the Aquino administration.
NAIA 1 is the old international airport with the dubious distinction of being “the worst airport in the world” for years 2011 and 2013. It has the perennial problem of air-conditioning. Some of the arriving passengers faint due to the unbearable heat. NAIA 4, the old domestic airport since the 1960s, has a similar problem with its air-conditioning that my wife and I have personally experienced in 2013 and 2014. Honrado is Hopeless!
Why PH has no ‘inclusive growth’
Last Sunday, June 29, 2014, the front-page headline of the Philippine Daily Inquirer was “Focus on Inclusive Growth” for the “Last 2 years of the P-Noy administration.” The question is: aren’t they supposed to have done it in the past four years? NEDA Director-General Arsenio Balisacan already took cognizance of the lack of the “inclusive growth” in our economy when he was interviewed by Reuters in 2012.
Former NEDA Director-General Cielito F. Habito wrote in his Inquirer column of 26 June 2012 that the increase in wealth of the top 40 richest Filipinos was equivalent to 76.5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the Philippines for year 2011. Habito, who has a doctorate degree in Economics from Harvard University, was the Socio-Economic Planning Secretary of President Fidel V. Ramos from 1992 to 1998.
However, there will be no “inclusive growth” in our economy UNLESS more foreign direct investments (FDIs) come in to the Philippines. There will be few FDIs in PH unless the restrictive economic provisions in our flawed Constitution are REMOVED. Yet President Aquino is against any amendments to the Constitution during his entire term. PNoy has not done anything to attract FDIs as they have been done in other countries.
It is really very simple. Just look at the total billions of dollars invested in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and even Vietnam. Then we can see how they have overtaken the poor Philippines in spite of the fact that corruption is common among all the five countries who are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). We are supposed to even have the Daan na Matuwid under the Aquino Administration!