By Dr. Jun Ynares, M.D.
“Here’s a President who lives up to his campaign promises.”
That, in essence, was a remark which came from an elderly lady who had come to kibitz at the groundbreaking program for a major infrastructure project.
That project is the South East Metro Manila Expressway (SEMME). The groundbreaking was held last week with the private sector developers and the representatives of the participating local governments and agencies present.
The SEMME, as bannered in media, will run from Taguig City to the Batasan area in Quezon City, traversing a total of 34 kilometers. The public appears to be raving about the project since it has sparked hope that travel time from the busy business districts on southern Metro Manila to Quezon City may be cut by as much as two hours. Hopes are also high that the SEMME would decongest C-5 and EDSA, making travel more bearable to daily commuters.
Rizaleños and Antipoleños have given the project a warm welcome, too. This is because it is expected to help ease traffic flow along Ortigas Avenue Extension through which residents of several Rizal towns – particularly Cainta, Taytay, Angono, Binangonan, and the City of Antipolo – pass going to Mandaluyong, Makati and Taguig.
The other reason is that the project signaled the acceleration of the completion of the bigger Circumferential Road 6 plan. This will pass through the other Rizal towns of San Mateo and Rodriguez and will be the vital road link between Southern Luzon and Central Luzon.
Once completed, the road link will speed up not just people travel but also the movement of goods and services. It will also help speed up progress in the countryside and open up new economic opportunities for communities outside of Metro Manila.
Equally important, the groundbreaking event served as proof that President Duterte – as described by the elderly lady at the ceremony – is one leader who lives up to the promises he made during the campaign period.
He never forgets the commitments he made, including those who made in private conversations.
We recall that, at a visit President Duterte made in Antipolo during the 2016 election campaign, I had whispered to him the urgent plea of Rizaleños and Antipoleños that the C-6 project be completed faster.
The President has delivered.
Meanwhile, it looks like the Senate has opted to “disappoint” those who had hoped that the venerable institution would opt to help spur progress in the areas outside of Metro Manila.
The hope was dashed when it announced that it had chosen to relocate to a permanent site in Fort Bonifacio.
Ironically, that choice was made at a time when the President had underscored the crisis of human movement besetting Metro Manila. He called the urban center “dead” and pointed to the urgent need to open up new opportunities in other parts of the country so that the movement of people and goods can be redirected away from it.
If we would recall, as early as 1974, former President Ferdinand Marcos during his time issued Presidential Proclamation No. 1283, later amended by Proclamation No. 1637 in 1977, creating the Lungsod Silangan Townsite Reservation Areas in Antipolo, San Mateo and Montalban in Rizal. The town sites were aimed to decongest Metro Manila by forming new cores of human settlements and housing centers in adjacent and nearby towns and provinces. To this day, 40 years after, decongestion of NCR and decentralization have yet to be initiated by the national government.
Public relations and media consultant Archie Inlong emailed us a letter which perhaps aptly expresses the sentiment. He wrote:
“By choosing Fort Bonifacio, the Senate appears to have chosen to spend huge taxpayers’ money for the comfort and convenience of its members who live in the luxurious villages in the Metropolis.”
For our part, Antipoleños are honored to have been given the chance to offer a possible site for a permanent home to the Senate.
We offered a site for free to the Senate – an offer which could have saved it billions in purchase and construction cost.
More important, we offered the Senate a chance to become the symbol of a new economic and social direction – one that is no longer biased in favor of the already overly-developed and congested Metropolis and which would lean more towards spreading the sunshine to other parts of the country.
Had it opted for the free site in Antipolo, it could have created new growth corridors.
But that is now water under the bridge. The Senate had already made a decision.
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