Monday, September 20, 2021

Sangil: No planning, no vision from leaders

WHAT we suffer from today is a direct consequence of obvious inaction by past and present leaders both from the national and local levels. We can no longer ignore how cities and other urban areas getting paralyzed due to traffic gridlocks almost happening everywhere. Build, Build, Build program by the Duterte administration may come as a relief maybe in about ten years or so. Subways in Metro Manila and other cities hopefully will be finished.

The three cities in Pampanga, namely Mabalacat, Angeles and San Fernando are in need of better road networks. I had a talk with Public Works Regional Director Dong Tolentino and he told me that overpasses will be built on intersections like the one in Porac-Angeles. Angeles City Mayor-elect Pogi Lazatin said a bypass road will be completed during his watch. The bypass road will cut through the Infinity Subdivision near the city hall and wind up at EPZA in Pulong Cacutud. Mayor Pogi is collaborating with his Congressman brother Jonjon on this project.

Progress is not a quaint idea. Vision and looking towards the future were detained in the past by most of government leaders. This I wrote some time ago. 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 anytime 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. 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 several trillion pesos already. It is called debt trap by economists 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 on-going. I remember saying it was absurd, ridiculous or it may be 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 more flights in five years. Last Tuesday there was computer glitch NAIA affecting 80 flights. Good thing now upgrade on Clark airport 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.


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