Monday, September 20, 2021

Sangil: Edpam and Garbo looking towards the future

GOVERNMENT should patiently and skilfully undertake a long term solution to the ever growing population problem. Two years ago, the growth already breached the 100 million mark.

At 1.5 percent growth rate, it would mean an additional one and half million Filipinos will be born and will contribute pressing down social services.

Look at the traffic gridlock in almost urban areas in the country.

Everyone, rich or poor, young and old, the powerful and the marginalized are all victims.

Look at our towns and cities today. They are no longer liveable and this is due to lack of vision among the leaders of yesteryears. There are no railways working anymore, here in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The ride from Tutuban in Manila up to Damortis in La Union making stops in Malolos and Angeles are only memories now.

Even the now MacArthur highway became so narrow and government only started the expansion during President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's watch. Too late, those trees lining up the road stretch are too beautiful to be cut.

I insist on repeating this. How many presidents of our country came from the central and northern Luzon, say Elpidio Quirino, Ferdinand Marcos, Ramon Magsaysay, the two Macapagals and the two Arroyos. What happened to their advisers? There was never a national strategy to this effect.

Almost all streets in Metro Manila are clogged. The main arteries, like the Epifanio De Los Santos (EDSA), Quezon Avenue, Roxas Boulevard and the secondaries are virtually park areas if seen from above. Too stressful now driving around Metro Manila any time of day and night. And coming from Pampanga going to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Mall of Asia, Solaire and City of Dreams casinos you might as well forget the trip. Me, I rather stay home or go to Clark Freeport instead.

Government policies have their consequences. Under the Duterte regime, it started the Build, Build, Build program. Our country is in need more infrastructures now more than ever because of the burgeoning population.

It is most welcome, but a word of caution. Don’t over borrow. The government indebtness is close to seven trillion pesos already. The yellow light is blinking.

Duterte’s economic managers should fear for a possible debt crisis. One beneficiary of the Build, Build, Build program is the Clark Airport.

Upgrade is ongoing. I remember saying it was absurd, ridiculous or it maybe said that it is downright atrocious for the government not to fully utilize the Clark International Airport despite the air traffic congestion of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. It reached its overcapacity years back.

The NAIA can no longer accommodate the wide bodied aircraft because the 3.2 kilometer length of the single runway will place the airline passengers at risk. And compare this to the Clark airport which has two 3.5 kilometer parallel runways with a provision for expansion.

It is indeed the future international gateway, but not much was done under the Pnoy administration. Good thing now upgrade is ongoing, though there is a controversy surrounding the privatization of the airport’s operations and maintenance (O&M). That’s another story.

Of course it is within this time frame, five to ten years that the infrastructures including the construction of a modern terminal building must have been finished. But the missing link which is a railway system that will move in and out passengers, remained in the drawing board.

In the meanwhile, each towns and cities should now react with the latest developments. The local leadership should learn now how to master plan. Re-development is the operative word. In Angeles City this how current Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan is precisely doing.

Mabalacat City Mayor Cris Garbo is equally focused on the redevelopment of his City which is sandwiched between the airport and Clark Green City. The growth of the two cities cannot be taken for granted. Mayors Pamintuan and Garbo are looking towards the future.


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