Yesterday’s world-changing breaking news was that Philippine Congress gave the green light to renaming the North Luzon Exrpessway (NLEX) the “President Corazon C. Aquino Expressway” (CAEX)…
“If favorably passed into law, it 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,” said Nueva Ecija Rep. Magnolia Rosa Antonino.
It is interesting to note that 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!
Compare the sort of presumptuous pomposity on exhibit in the Philippines with the humble wishes of Singapore’s Elder Statesman Lee Kuan Yew who instructed the executors of his estate to have his home at 38 Oxley Road where he lived and raised his kids the whole time he ruled Singapore until his death “torn down upon his passing”.
On the matter of the sentiment surrounding a need to preserve LKY’s memory, PAP MP Alex Yam had this to say…
His legacy lies beyond the confines of 38, Oxley Road.
We find it in the streets of a peaceful, stable and united Singapore. His memory will be better served in our collective efforts to carry Singapore forward to the next 50 years”.
Indeed, one only needs to look around and up and down while standing on any Singapore street to appreciate LKY’s grand lifetime achievement. In the Philippines, on the other hand, there are only plenty names to “remind” people of supposedly “great” people. But tangible evidence of greatness in the society itself remains tragically thin after almost a century of “independence”.
[Photo of Bocaue Exit courtesy PampangaTalents.com.]
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