Why?? Why should the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) be named after Corazon “Cory” Aquino, former president of the Philippines and mother of current President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III?
According to Nueva Ecija Rep. Magnolia Rosa Antonio-Nadres, author of House Bill 4820 which aims to do just that, naming the NLEX after Cory will “constantly remind us of the noble deeds of the late President, especially for the poor, and inspire our people to emulate her example of selfless service to the nation while her exceptional courage and leadership gave hope and united the Filipino people at a critical time in the country’s history.”
One wonders whether or not these House representatives have anything better to do. We need look no further than the plight of Manila’s international airport which, by virtue of Republic Act 6639, was renamed the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in 1987 in honour of Cory Aquino’s “martyred” husband.
Naming the Manila International Airport after an Aquino certainly did not stop its descent to a national embarrassment. The NAIA is now enjoying its fourth year in the world hall of airport shame, knocked off from the top only this year by Pakistan’s Islamabad Benazir Bhutto International as world’s worst airport after it topped the list the previous three years. It now holds an “improved” fourth place in the notorious list published by SleepingInAirports.net.
The NLEX underwent a massive 385 million dollar rehabilitation under the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo through a public–private partnership (PPP) with the Manila North Tollways Corporation (MNTC). Part of the funding included 70 million dollars in loans from the Asian Development Bank. The ADB noted the success of the project in a report it issued in 2011 where it hailed the project as “a benchmark project for the toll road sector” which has “paved the way for further private sector participation.”
The ADB report further elaborates…
NLEX was the first expressway to be rehabilitated, operated, and maintained by a private company, with international partners, and in accordance with accepted international practice. The project has served as a model for others. Facilities and standards of NLEX are now on a par with expressways in other countries, including those in Europe and elsewhere in Asia. The design standards, facilities, financial structuring, and concession agreement serve as benchmarks for the other toll road projects in the Philippines.
Much of this work had happened under Arroyo’s watch. But unlike the current president, BS Aquino who often ends up with a foot in his mouth after most public addresses, Arroyo is a lot more circumspect with regard to her role in this and other success stories during her rule as she relates in her famous essay, It’s the economy student!…
But these accomplishments have simply been part of the continuum of history. The gains I achieved were built on the efforts of previous leaders. Each successive government must build on the successes and progress of the previous ones: advance the programs that work, leave behind those that don’t.
So should the NLEX be named after another Aquino? Filipinos should think again. History and the facts are not on the side of that hare-brained proposal.
[Photo courtesy Wikipedia.]
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