By Atty. Rene Espina
Last month, I wrote about the essential requirements for a country to become truly developed. One of requirements was a well-educated population. I congratulate President Duterte and the Congress for having passed the law granting free tuition to all students in State Universities and Colleges. Once upon a time, I also authored and sponsored a law which was supported in the House by Cebuano congressmen. The bill was approved by both houses of Congress. However, it failed to become law because it was not approved by the Conference Committee to reconcile the differences, because the chairman of the Senate Committee on Education did not or refused to sign it. According to her, she wanted to consult me. Regretfully, I happened to be abroad as guest of the German government during the Munich Olympics, about the same time Martial Law was declared in the Philippines. The Visayas State University became the pioneer model of almost all the other state universities that were later on created.
Ages ago, when I was just in the elementary grade school, Cebu already had a UP Junior College. Today from the number of buildings that the college has, it would seem that the University of the Philippines has no interest whatsoever in expanding the college. Have the Cebuano officials, congressmen and senators shown any interest? The Iloilo University of the Philippines has better facilities than our Junior College. I want to be kind and charitable. Some of our politicians own private school institutions. Other influential businessmen own schools and universities. Is it a mere coincidence that “Junior College” has not matured until today? If Mindanao has a Mindanao State University, what is wrong with the Visayas having a State University especially now, that tuition will be free for thousands of future students?
A second topic that I would like to write about is the fact that years ago I did write about how to solve many of the problems of the Metro Manila area and the surrounding provinces. First is the traffic. I do hope that for the first time under PRRD, this problem is seriously studied and the right solutions will be applied to solve it. Like: A) More EDSA-like circumferential roads at ground level or an elevated one; B) Interconnections between the circumferential roads; C) The advantage of the possibilities of using Laguna de Bai as a great boulevard highway around the lake with spokes going out into the provinces, Manila Bay, and the Pacific Ocean; D) Deepening of the lake to increase its water carrying capacity; and E) At the same time, reclaiming portions of the lake edge for expansion of the business and industrial areas of Metro Manila.
Regretfully I am against the idea of a subway in Metro Manila. Until the authorities in charge can prove that the Lagusnilad in front of Manila City Hall and the underpass in front of Far Eastern University will never again be closed by flooding during a typhoon, I will continue to be against a subway system.
Job opportunities, new industries, and other businesses that are introduced, should be encouraged to go to the Visayas and Mindanao area. The Metro area and surrounding provinces’ problem of congestion, transportation and traffic problems, squatter communities, flooding, etc, can be better solved with the growth of industry in the Visayas and in Mindanao. Luzon’s population is now more than double than that of Visayas and Mindanao. Because of the job opportunities that are located in Luzon, many Visayans and Mindanaoans have immigrated to the Tagalog and Pampangueño areas. I hope that the Duterte administration will encourage the establishment of the above mentioned industries and the corresponding infrastructure as suggested.