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Claim to flame

Just recently, our leader Benigno Simeon, aka BS, proudly proclaimed that, in his term in office so far, meaning, during the past five years of the Aquino (Part II) administration, this country actually overflowed with infrastructure projects.

In effect, such a derisory claim to fame of our leader BS was his immediate reaction to news reports that, out of the 10 members of the Asean, the Philippines ranked at a rather embarrassing 8th place in overall quality of infrastructure.

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Oh no, boss, do not tell me that even our neighboring countries like Cambodia and Laos actually beat the Philippines. You know—what an indictment of the Aquino (Part II) administration!

Thus, our leader BS just had to make a rather strange rejoinder to the news reports, choosing as outlet his speaking engagement over the weekend in his home province of Tarlac, which was the “thanksgiving celebration” of a religious sect.

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Just how exactly the bothersome issue of poor infrastructure in the country could ever be appropriate to discuss in a religious event was still the topic of debate among the millions of drug addicts in 92 percent of the barangays all over the country.

Anyway, the reports quoted our leader BS verbatim: “Ano pa bang imprastruktura na pwedeng gawin ang hindi pa natin ginagawa? (What infrastructure do we still need to build that we have not built yet?)”

In a way, the Aquino (Part II) was running out of items in its infrastructure to-do-list. Been there, done that! Indeed, boss, what more infrastructures do we need to pursue in this country?

Except, perhaps, some minor projects like flyovers and rail systems in traffic-infested urban areas, irrigation systems in millions of hectares of farmland in the poorest of the poor provinces, new seaports and new airports all over the place, just to name a few!

In our piece last Oct. 22, titled “Often Secret,” we also talked a bit about a similar mystifying claim of our leader BS, something about overflowing infrastructure projects done by his administration.

He made the all too familiar claim before a big group of incredulous barangay officials just a few weeks ago, while the international airport in Metro Manila, named after his father, was suffering from heavy air traffic, causing flight delays.

Anyway, we wondered in the same piece—among his only handful of trusted advisers, who could be the one feeding him such an utter lie?

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Aha! In his speech in the event of the religious sect a few days ago, our leader BS gave us a little hint when he quoted inadvertently similar claims of Public Works and Highway Secretary Rogelio Singson.

In fact, to prove the claim of “overflowing” infrastructure projects, he cited the province of Apayao, quoting Singson that, because of too much government construction in the province, Apayao had a shortage of steel, cement and workers.

The last time I checked, based on the latest available census done in 2010, Apayao had a population of a little more than 112,000—or about one-tenth of one percent of the Philippine population in the same year.

Just exactly what kind of intricate infrastructure projects that the Aquino (Part II) administration pursued in Apayao, rather urgently, that caused the severe shortage in construction materials? For sure, this would also be a nice topic for debate among drug addicts.

Now, the recent report on our sorry state of infrastructure, placing us 8th out of 10 Asean countries, was not just the handiwork of some political opponents of the Aquino (Part II) administration.

Actually, the occasion was the 3rd Asean Connectivity Forum, held in Seoul, South Korea, attended in full force by officials of all 10 Asean members, and sponsored by the Korean government itself.

According to reports, the source of the information, ranking us 8th in terms of infrastructure, was the latest report of the World Economic Forum, based in Geneva, Switzerland, famous worldwide for its “Davos” annual meeting of the most influential leaders in business, governments, academe and media.

The WEF also serves as a world economic “think tank,” publishing all sorts of reports, such as the “competitiveness” of some 144 countries, including the “infrastructure” ranking cited in the recent Asean forum.

In other words, it would not be easy for the Palace boys to dismiss the reports as just some political flame lit up by the opponents of the Aquino (Part II) administration, designed to badmouth its straight and narrow road toward our infrastructure bliss.

According to the latest WEF competitiveness report, the Philippine infrastructure ranked 95th in the world out of 144 countries. Based on segments, the Philippines ranked 87th in terms of roads and 80th on rail system.

By the way, as for our seaports, we were at number 101. For the airports, we were at number 108—which was something anomalous to the business sector, mainly because of the archipelagic makeup of this country.

In the 2013 mid-term elections, as part of the campaign promises of the Aquino (Part II) administration, our leader BS proclaimed he would finish all sorts of infrastructure projects before the end of his term.

That would be about eight months from today.

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TAGS: Apayao, Aquino administration, Cambodia, Infrastructure, infrastructure projects, Laos, Rogelio Singson, Tarlac, world economic forum
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