Dean dela Paz in his Daily Tribune piece “Tugade’s transport triumphs” recalls the state of transport infrastructure under the administration of former President Noynoy Aquino and the fiascos that punctuated his term…
We need not list a litany of the successive failures as they are deeply etched in the consciousness of the public, like festering wounds only an insensitive dispensation can inflict. Suffice it to mention scandalous shibboleths seared into our collective consciousness. Among legions, these included “tanim bala,” “NAIA Terminal III,” “carmageddon,” “boundary system,” “MRT III,” “Mahindra,” and the purchase of useless and incompatible rolling stock and spare parts for our rail transit systems.
Story was, Noynoy was freaked out when he heard the new pejorative term for him, “noynoying” which meant disappearing from public view for an extended period of time doing nothing. Yes Virginia, the Opposition’s accusations against current President Rodrigo Duterte, have their origins in his predecessor. That’s how starved of ideas the Opposition propagandists are.
The first Secretary of the then undivided Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) was Ping De Jesus. The latter is the same official under former President Cory Aquino who fast-tracked the stupid flyovers at major intersections which ruined what could’ve been at grade light rail systems right-of-way. Alas, De Jesus didn’t last long at his post supposedly over the demand to remove Sumitomo as the maintenance service provider for the MRT-3. Enter Joseph E.A. “Jun” Abaya. Soldier. Engineer. Lawyer. Moron. Rumor had it that behind Abaya was Mar Roxas who had to wait it out for one year before he could get a Cabinet post since he ran as Vice President but lost to the Pinoy Obama, Jojo Binay. Thus began the Calvary of Filipino commuters which we are all familiar with.
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MRT-3 was literally run to the ground. Noynoy cancelled his predecessor former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s (GMA’s) NorthRail project as well claiming it was rigged from the start. This began protracted arbitration with Sinomach, the Chinese company which was in charge of the project. The light rail common station had been awarded to SM for P200 million. This was for the right to have it in front of SM North EDSA. Abaya made sure the project didn’t push through. The Ayalas wanted the common station at their Trinoma mall instead near Mindanao Avenue. The national government and the Quezon City local government also gave Ayala the whole frontage of EDSA from Quezon Avenue to North Avenue for their QCBD development. If only they could’ve gotten away with it, even the Veterans Hospital where GMA was detained, would’ve gone to the Ayalas. Abaya’s last act was the awarding of the LRT-2 extension from Santolan to Masinag. Abaya cut-up the project package into pieces for favored bidders and left commuters with the much hated image of him inspecting the tracks of MRT-3 after a breakdown where the passengers had to walk the length of the tracks to the next station so they could get back to ground level and catch a bus.
Dela Paz writes…
The successive secretaries of transportation under the Aquino administration had not only cranked up a controversial corruption machine purring with one scandal after another, but from the inconveniences inflicted on the public, they catalyzed the desire for competent and honest men holding the transport portfolio.
Secretary Arthur Tugade is a far cry from Jun Abaya. The light rail system is being integrated with the rehabilitated Philippine National Railways (PNR) system. Soon the people who reside in Malolos can hop on a train bound for Tutuban and transfer to the light rail system bound for their final destination. Those from the south can catch a train at Calamba bound for Tutuban. In the near future, Filipinos will be able to get on a train to go all the way to La Union up north or Legazpi down south. The PNR system will also transport cargo which means cheaper commodities for National Capital Region (NCR) residents and increased income for farmers. The Opposition claims that Build, Build, Build is a myth but Duterte promised a comfortable life for Filipinos and, in this way, he delivered on that promise by appointing Tugade as Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary.
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