Goose delays golden eggs | Inquirer Business

Goose delays golden eggs

Promises, promises—and our venerated BCDA made many of those.

It promised just recently for instance that, for once, it would do something good for the country: It would finally turn over the operations of the 94-kilometer toll road SCTEx to the private sector.

The modern day hero president of BCDA, Arnel Casanova, made the promise in July before the last Sona of our leader Benigno Simeon, aka BS.


Yet nobody is surprised that up to today, our esteemed BCDA still has to fulfill its promise, and Casanova seems to be dragging his foot, or perhaps something else heavier, on the turnover of the critical road system to the MNTC.


That is the Manila North Tollways Corp., operator of the NLEx, and, of course, we all know how well maintained the NLEx is, or how efficient its operations are.

Eight months ago in January, the MNTC won in the BCDA bidding for the SCTEx concession, offering to give upfront P3.4 billion in cash and a revenue sharing scheme splitting the gross income.


On top of those income-generating offers, the MNTC will also shoulder the P650-million cost of the high-tech system to upgrade the computers in SCTEx that will allow its integration with the NLEx.

Such a seamless integration never existed since SCTEx opened in 2008.

In March, or two months after the bidding, which could be considered a record of sorts in this country, both sides signed an agreement called BOA, or the business operating agreement, that would turn over management, operations and maintenance of the SCTEx to MNTC for the next 29 years.

Serving as witnesses to the signing were our leader, BS, and French Prime Minister Francois Hollande. You know—full trumpets blaring!

But several months after MNTC put the PP3.5 billion cash in escrow, and not bonds or any form of IOUs, the BCDA seemed to have forgotten its obligations under the BOA.

Here is the bad news: The SCTEx is already in different stages of disrepair.

To think, the toll road was not a cheap project. It cost P28 billion to build seven years ago. It was financed by the government with another loan from Japan.

The SCTEx serves as the lifeblood of Central Luzon provinces of Bataan, Pampanga and Tarlac, and even Zambales, connecting them to the NLEx that linked them to the rest of Luzon.

Believe me, seven years of disrepair could be a long time even for an inanimate road network.

From what I heard, the MNTC already acquired some new high-tech systems for the SCTEx, trying to address the complaints of motorists regarding the rather outdated systems in the toll road.

A casual inspection of the SCTEx would also show the state of disrepair in various parts, which was understandable, mainly because the BCDA hardly had any capability to manage any toll road, much less the capability to maintain it.

From what I gathered, the MNTC has been ready since the signing of the BOA in March for the heavy repair work needed in SCTEx, including the side slopes and embankments destroyed by heavy rains.

In short, the MNTC would be the goose laying the SCTEx golden eggs.

Yet our beloved BCDA, for whatever ungodly reason, continued to delay the turnover, in the process endangering the lives of the public.


A signature campaign is going on in Palawan, involving a manifesto addressed to the Supreme Court on the “cases” of the Reyes brothers, former Palawan Governor Joel and former Coron Mayor Mario.

Many years ago, at the height of political turmoil in Palawan, the Department of Justice accused the Reyes brothers of acting as “masterminds” in the murder of block time radio commentator Gerry Ortega before the regional trial court.

The brothers ran to the Court of Appeals, which ruled against the DOJ, in effect dismissing the cases against the Reyeses. The DOJ appealed to the Supreme Court its defeat in the CA.

Now, the signature campaign in Palawan in effect begged the SC to resolve—once and for all—the crux of the matter in the cases of the Reyes brothers, which was actually the “legality” of the second panel of investigators created by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima personally as a direct order to the entire DOJ.

When the Ortega murder case against the Reyes brothers broke out, the DOJ head office stepped into the case for some mysterious reasons, and De Lima just had to create a special panel of investigators for the case.

The panel ruled there was no evidence whatsoever against the Reyes brothers.

De Lima then formed another panel, which became known as the “second panel,” which without much ado recommended the filing of the murder case against the Reyes brothers.

Twice, the CA declared that the De Lima creation of the “second” panel was illegal, as the CA also upheld the findings of the “first” panel that the cases against the Reyes brothers would have to be dismissed.

From what I gathered, the signature campaign in Palawan already obtained more than 15,000 signatures in just four days. Well, the murder cases against the Reyes brothers already created rifts among influential families in Palawan.

Reports also indicated that certain groups in Palawan launched an information drive to show that the real reason for the cases against the Reyes was nothing but old traditional dirty politics.

Before he went to hiding as a result of the arrest warrant issued by the court, Joel Reyes was said to be the most influential politician in the province.

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In effect, some influential individuals in the province were on top of the whole orchestrated affair to get Reyes out of the way in politics.

TAGS: Arnel Casanova, BCDA, Court of Appeals, Leila de Lima, Manila North Tollways Corporation, nlex, SCTEx

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