Gov’t still hopeful on big infra projects

Potential legal issues hound NLEx-SLEx connector

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President Benigno Aquino III Malacañang Photo Bureau(file)

President Aquino sees too many stumbling blocks to the much-needed connector roads that will link the North and South Luzon expressways but remains hopeful that the two alignments separately espoused by San Miguel Corp. and Metro Pacific Investment Corp. will be completed within his term.

Mr. Aquino also expects some other infrastructure projects, including the rehabilitation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminals and other toll roads, to be completed before he steps down from office in 2016.

Commenting on the North-South Luzon connector road projects, he said in a roundtable with the Inquirer staff last week: “To proceed with them, there are too many potential legal issues.” But he added that both projects of SMC and MPIC would be pursued.

“I have to say yes,” when asked whether completion would be doable within his term as earlier announced, but added he was “hesitant to say yes.”

Based on the latest meeting of the technical group working on the projects, Mr. Aquino said there seemed to be an agreement on all positions. The final meeting to address the remaining concerns was scheduled last Friday.

The President also mentioned the connector road project during a forum with the Asia News Network hosted by the Inquirer last week, when a Thai journalist asked what he would do for the Philippines—now Southeast Asia’s fastest-growing economy—if he were to stay in office for 10 years.

The President said he did not want to stay for 10 years as he would like to enjoy the remainder of his life after 2016, but he acknowledged that more infrastructure building was needed.

“We’ve been criticized for lack of substantial infrastructure projects. Unfortunately we have been inheritors of certain laws (whose) purpose is not to serve the general good,” he said. “For example, we have a major highway in the north and south. In the 70s, they planned to connect North and South Expressways so we don’t have go go through the congestion of Metro Manila area. Today it’s still not a reality: The laws that govern the franchises for this road were designed to benefit the crony.”

He said these laws were still existing and the government would have to conform to these particular laws if the country were to have such infrastructure. “That’s an unfortunate stumbling block. We’re trying to navigate this very tricky process so that the project will stand scrutiny by anybody and everybody,” he said.

“Now there’s of course the competing pressure: P2.4 billion in estimated losses everyday due to the traffic and congestion that happens in Metro Manila. Hence, if we have this connector road north to the south, that will bypass it,” he said, adding that the resulting decongestion would improve the quality of life in Metro Manila and translate the P2.4-billion losses into new opportunities.

During the succeeding roundtable with the Inquirer staff, Mr. Aquino said he was referring to two decrees, one of which granted the franchise to Construction Development of the Philippines (CDCP) and the other transferred that franchise to Philippine National Construction Corp. (PNCC).

Taking about the connector road, he said PNCC had the franchise to extend everything and whenever a new alignment would be added, this renewed the franchise by another 30 years in a “walang katapusan” (neverending) cycle. As such, the proponents of the connector road would have to enter into a joint-venture deal with PNCC to comply.

He said there would be a need to go to Congress to repeal these laws, which would mean taking around a year to get a new legislation if it were to be certified as an “urgent” bill.

Meanwhile, Mr. Aquino said Naia Terminal 3 would be “finally 100 percent” operational by next year while the upgrade of Terminal 1—the oldest among Naia’s three terminals—would be completed by December next year. The upgrades of these terminals were meant to be finished before the Philippines’ hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in 2015.

He also said the four-kilometer Daang Hari would also be among the projects to be completed during this term.

Daang Hari is a major arterial road connecting the rapidly growing towns of Imus, Dasmariñas and Bacoor in Cavite to Metro Manila via the SLEx. This road provides strategic access to Cavite, much-needed relief to traffic in the congested Alabang-Zapote Road and Commerce Avenue.

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  • FannyMacquiao

    That’s another reason why traffic is so terrible in the Philippines because PNoy’s Presidency has not produced any improvements for the country’s infra sector. Thus far all the Philippines has been receiving are excuses from PNoy and Malacanang as to why nothing is happening in terms of projects infra.

  • A_few_good_men

    Isn’t PNoy the president? Why so many excuses for not accomplishing the task that his government should do. Can’t he tell DPWH and DOTC to start now these projects and give them timeline and deadline to accomplish them. Can’t he tell his Liberal Party to change the laws that need changes so that he can do what he needs to do for the country. From the way I see it, there is only one problem really that needs to be corrected——- the leadership qualities of this (our) president.
    Your “daang matuwid” should have length not just in front of your house but should be up to where you wanted to go. If you see that its not straight going there, then its an opportunity for you to straighten it instead of avoiding going there and telling us of the reason why you can go or extend your “daang matuwid” there.
    Now it is becoming apparent that the term “Nonoying” is become aptly appropriate for you. Being honest and not corrupt is not enough as a qualification for president. Another qualification is being a doer. Whatever you think should be done, just do it now sir!

    • muddygoose

      It would be easier to simply command DPWH and DOTC if these projects will be using government money. But remember these projects will be funded and implemented by private entities. We need to provide enough incentive for them to invest. At the same time, we need to protect our own interests. Also, it’s very important that we tread carefully, otherwise we will end up with substandard projects that will leave us (and our children’s children) with a mountain of debt. Think Bataan Power Plant, the MRT, the flyovers on Edsa, NAIA 3, etc.

      The problem is when we are unwilling to face these issues because we purposely prefer debates to be political, to a point that we criticize anti-corruption itself. Angry at the treatment of Corona/GMA, could not wait for Binay to sit, depressed at the changes to the kick back status quo are the kinds of motivations that drive a lot of the noisy ones here. But I digress…

  • Rolly Javier

    Baka si danding yong sinasabi niya na crony.

  • Rolly Javier

    Mr. President….ano ginagawa ng kongreso bakit hinde e repel ang sinasabi mo na stumbling block sa mga infra….bakit kasi wala sila kikitain tulad sa PDAF nila? Bakit hinde rin lagyan or bakit hinde pa nilalagyan ng LRT yong kahabaan ng commonwealth at Quezon Ave. Mr. president sumakay kayo ng bus mula SM fairview papunta ng welcome rotonda…maaawa kayo sa mga obrero na hinde makasakay papunta sa trabaho lalo na pag lunes.

  • boldyak

    hmmmmm…SMC..SMC…SMC…??????????

  • boldyak

    he is telling us now that he need congress to pass laws he thinks is good?….why does our president thinks that he has to control the legislative?…does he think that congress only needs money to pass his prefered law?…if that is the case, congress is really there to make money for themselves…and these kinds of people are destrying our country and any body who destroys our country is an enemy…eliminating enemy of the state makes one a hero?…hmmmm..seems like i want to be a hero after all…

  • LV_cipher

    The only thing good about this current administration is blaming past administrations to divert attention away from its own failures or inability to act decisively. I am not very optimistic that any of the so-called Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects will be completed or push through before Noynoying steps down. With each pronouncement and lack of action, the only thing that will be updated will be the PPP (power point presentation) slides promising that these projects will be completed “next year”.

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