MUSLIM, CHRISTIANS: AQUINO MANGLED BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW (BBL) 

A group of Muslims and Christians on Sunday accused President Benigno Aquino 3rd of mangling the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), an act that showed his administration’s “insincerity” in pushing for lasting peace in Mindanao. The Aquino administration’s peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are “insincere, dishonest and deceptive. [President] Aquino cannot flaunt in his fifth State of the Nation Address the success of the GPH-MILF peace talks,” the Moro Christians Peoples Alliance (MCPA) said in a statement posted on luwaran.com, the official MILF website. GPH stands for Government of the Philippines.

“Two months after the MILF-led Bangsamoro Transition Commission [BTC] submitted the draft [BBL] to Malacanang, Aquino failed to certify and submit the draft as an urgent bill to Congress. Instead, Aquino’s legal team mangled the BBL draft. The MILF declared as unacceptable the ‘diluted Malacanang version’ of the BBL,” the group said. The MCPA also questioned the secrecy of the discussions regarding the supposed revisions of the BBL, saying that keeping the developments away from the public eye naturally draws suspicion. “Until now, the people are kept blind [on] the contents of the BBL and Malacañang’s revisions.

It is [in] Malacañang’s interests that the contents of the BBL remain confidential to conceal its deception, dishonesty and insincerity in negotiating peace,” the group said. The MCPA issued the statements as Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. on Sunday again gave assurances that the government and MILF panels crafting the final version of the BBL are working full-time to ensure that each line in the measure conforms with the Constitution. “According to Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, the head of the Philippine panel, they are discussing how to put to law the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. They are working hard to reach an agreement with regard to the proper language to ensure [its] constitutionality,” Coloma said in a radio interview. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Palace hands-off on calls to ‘re-elect’ Aquino 

PHOTO Screengrab from Noynoy Aquino fanpage. Despite being prohibited by the Philippines Constitution, some netizens are calling for the re-election of President Benigno Aquino III. Reminding the public of the constitutional ban on re-election of presidents, Malacañang on Sunday said it had no hand in the said campaign. “Unang-una po ay malinaw ang sinasabi sa ating Konstitusyon na ang bawat halal na Pangulo ay mayroon lamang iisang anim na taon na termino. Kaya kahit na ano man po ang sabihin nila, ang Saligang Batas po natin ang iiral hinggil diyan,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said over the radio. (First of all, the constitution clearly states that a president only has one six-year term. The constitution will always prevail.) He said Filipinos should respect the Philippine Constitution. “Wala po kaming kinalaman sa pagpapahayag na ganyan. ‘Yan po ay spontaneous at natural na pagpapahayag ng saloobin,” he added.
(We had nothing to do with such claims. That is just a spontaneous and natural expression of their feelings.)
On Aquino’s Facebook Page, which has 4 million followers, supporters have been posting messages and photos bearing the words “ One More Term” and “Re-Elect Pnoy for 2016.” * READ MORE...

ALSO: Senate frees Abad from more grilling  

Once is enough for Budget Secretary and Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) brains Florencio “Butch” Abad (photo) to face a grilling at the Senate over the unconstitutional Palace money pool as a Palace ally in the Senate discounted yesterday another shot at Abad whose earlier appearance raised more questions than provide answers on DAP. Abad will have a reprieve from another round of grilling before Senate probers over the DAP controversy but he may be confronted with questions on the issue during budget deliberations in the coming months, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero said as he shot down any possibility of Abad being called anew by his committee on finance to explain and identify DAP fund releases in the light of the coming marathon budget hearings in both Houses of Congress. Nonetheless, the senator said he will not stop anyone who wants to pursue the issue, especially those left unanswered in the DAP hearing some two weeks ago, during budget deliberations both in the committee level and in plenary debates. “I’m sure there will be a lot of those who will pose questions concerning DAP in the course of budget deliberations and I will not prevent anyone from throwing questions (on DAP),” Escudero said on radio.

“At least questions were raised and answered on the issue regarding DAP. In the process of the holding of hearings (that we can discuss issues surrounding DAP) so that with the tackling of the budget issue, we can still clear up unanswered questions on the DAP,” he said. Despite being the chairman of the committee that handles the budget bill, the senator is not willing to sponsor any measure that would introduce any amendments or revisions redefining “savings” in the Constitution, as what is being pursued by Malacanang. This, even as Escudero himself expressed belief that the motion for reconsideration filed by Malacanang before the Supreme Court, appealing its decision declaring some provisions of DAP as unconstitutional, will likely be junked as well. “First off, the SC is not about to reverse its decision. That’s very unlikely. So we don’t need to wait for the SC to issue its decision with finality,” he said. “Personally, I don’t have plans of filing a bill or any bill in relation to that. But any bill that may be referred to my committee, I promise to tackle it but I will make sure that it will not circumvent any law or invent a new name and would only be compliant to the ruling of the high court,” he added. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Malacanang defends Kris' support of PNoy 

Malacanang said presidential sister, showbiz personality Kris Aquino, is not doing anything wrong in calling for support for her brother, President Benigno Aquino III. In an interview with radio dzRB, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the TV host has the right to express her sentiments being the sister of the President. “Madali naman pong maunawaan ang konteksto at kahulugan ng kanyang sinabi dahil ito naman ay likas na saloobin ng mga magkakapatid hinggil sa kanilang kapatid. Tayo pong mga Pilipino ay mapagmahal sa ating mga kapatid at malapit po ang ating pakikipag-ugnayan sa lahat ng kasapi ng ating pamilya,” he said. There’s nothing “unusual” in what the youngest in the Aquino siblings is trying to do, he said. “‘Yun naman pong okasyon kung saan siya nagsalita ay noong pagkatapos ng misa sa alaala ni dating Pangulong Corazon Aquino sa ika-limang anibersaryo ng kanyang pagpanaw. Ito ay bahagi nung kanyang pasasalamat sa ngalan ng kanilang pamilya, sa lahat ng mga sumama sa kanila sa pag-alala sa ating mahal na dating Pangulo,” he said. * READ MORE...

ALSO: One thousand days of President Noynoy Aquino 

JULY 1 --The Pnoy administration countdown: The blame game --With elections over and a near clean sweep to boot, the Pnoy administration, in typical 'all hands on deck' one-track-focus now faces the rains, floods, traffic and a stock exchange plunge. As is the case of looking for someone to blame under the guise of 'command responsibility', heads were due to roll, so what's new? It also rains in Seattle --It rains every year in the tropics and when you have cities where any piece of land bigger than a thousand square meters, right astride a main thoroughfare, it instantly becomes a marketable mid rise or high rise condo, so where will all that rain water go? Don't forget that besides the limited number of waterways that nature provided our Metro, now clogged with the detritus of congestion, there have been no new man made water channels to drain it all out to a nearby bay or lake. Wait for 2035 --Thankfully the government rolled out its flood master plan of dredging and clearing river systems around the Metro, which will unfold for the next several years until completion in 2035. But what about for immediate traffic relief? The Metro, for sheer lack of any ring roads beside C5 and EDSA, is already congested even during the dry season.

Pipe dreams? Help was supposed to be on its way in the way of not one but two, elevated cross town expressways. The Skyway Stage 3 from Buendia to Balintawak and the NLEx Connector from NLEx Harbor Link to a Skyway Stage 3 junction over PUP in Manila was scheduled for delivery by the end of the Pnoy term, hence burnishing his image as the PPP President. But as of this writing, the Swiss Challenge to the NLEx connector has not yet happened while Metro Pacific is rushing to build the NLEx extension towards MacArthur Highway in Valenzuela, which will then be the starting point of the Harbor Link from Valenzuela to Letre, which will be joined to the NLEx connector. Stuck by sticking to details --* READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA NEWS REPORT:

MORO-CHRISTIAN GROUP QUESTIONS SECRECY IN BANGSAMORO LAW DISCUSSIONS: ‘Aquino mangled BBL’

MANILA, AUGUST 4, 2014 (MANILA TIMES) by JOEL M. SY EGCO SENIOR REPORTER - A group of Muslims and Christians on Sunday accused President Benigno Aquino 3rd of mangling the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), an act that showed his administration’s “insincerity” in pushing for lasting peace in Mindanao.

The Aquino administration’s peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are “insincere, dishonest and deceptive. [President] Aquino cannot flaunt in his fifth State of the Nation Address the success of the GPH-MILF peace talks,” the Moro Christians Peoples Alliance (MCPA) said in a statement posted on luwaran.com, the official MILF website. GPH stands for Government of the Philippines.

“Two months after the MILF-led Bangsamoro Transition Commission [BTC] submitted the draft [BBL] to Malacanang, Aquino failed to certify and submit the draft as an urgent bill to Congress. Instead, Aquino’s legal team mangled the BBL draft. The MILF declared as unacceptable the ‘diluted Malacanang version’ of the BBL,” the group said.

The MCPA also questioned the secrecy of the discussions regarding the supposed revisions of the BBL, saying that keeping the developments away from the public eye naturally draws suspicion.

“Until now, the people are kept blind [on] the contents of the BBL and Malacañang’s revisions. It is [in] Malacañang’s interests that the contents of the BBL remain confidential to conceal its deception, dishonesty and insincerity in negotiating peace,” the group said.

The MCPA issued the statements as Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. on Sunday again gave assurances that the government and MILF panels crafting the final version of the BBL are working full-time to ensure that each line in the measure conforms with the Constitution.

“According to Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, the head of the Philippine panel, they are discussing how to put to law the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. They are working hard to reach an agreement with regard to the proper language to ensure [its] constitutionality,” Coloma said in a radio interview.

* This way, the Palace official explained, the two panels will avoid lengthy debates in Congress that could eat up much time before it can be passed.

“Both panels know that the BBL will have to pass through Congress so they are working very hard to ensure that it will not require changes in the Constitution to hasten the [peace] process according to the peace process roadmap,” Coloma said.

But the MCPA, one of the largest people’s networks in southern Philippines, said Aquino “conjured [up] the illusion that peace now reigns in the Bangsamoro homeland, [but] now considers the BBL as unconstitutional that needs major revisions.”

“The Aquino regime will not enter into any agreement that is contrary to the Philippine Constitution, which guarantees and protects the current social system. More so, if the agreement concedes even limited power and benefit [to] the Moro people. Aquino’s rejection of the BBL is beyond the question of constitutionality. Aquino’s main objective is to preserve the interests of the ruling elite,” the group added.

It said Malacanang should not have tinkered with the submitted draft bill because it was formulated based on the agreed and signed Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and its four annexes and the CAB that were approved by the government and MILF panels.

“Aquino also conducted his peace negotiations in bad faith.

In the midst of the GPH-MILF peace negotiations, President Aquino publicly declared the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao [ARMM] a failed experiment that has to be abolished and replaced with the Bangsamoro in 2016.

In spite of this declaration, President Aquino used more than P8 billion from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) to resurrect the failed experiment,” the MCPA noted.

With the way Aquino conducts his peace initiatives, genuine and lasting peace remains elusive in the Bangsamoro homeland, it said.

“It appears that the objective of the Aquino regime in entering [into] the peace process is merely to pacify and quell the people’s armed resistance instead of addressing the root causes of the conflict. The MILF and the [communist] National Democratic Front share the same experience,” the group added.

It claimed that the “reforms” instituted in the ARMM were only a “political ploy” and part of a strategy to tighten the government’s control and influence in the region even beyond 2016.

“The move is to consolidate political patronage in the resource-rich and vote-rich Muslim Mindanao. Aquino is preparing the current local government officials and loyal allies to challenge the MILF leadership and candidates in the 2016 elections for the Bangsamoro National Assembly. This is the highest form of treachery against the Moro people,” the MCPA said.

The group also scored Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Quintos Deles and ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman for their “shameless admission” that the reforms in the ARMM were made possible by billions in DAP funds.

It said that the dangling of the DAP funds to achieve peace “exposes Aquino’s hypocrisy and dishonesty in the GPH-MILF peace negotiations.”

But Coloma maintained that Aquino and MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad are determined to conclude the crafting of the BBL and to submit it for congressional approval soon.

“This is determination in the highest level so that this should send out the signal to all to work for the immediate submission of the draft BBL,” he said.

“Suffice it to say that each chapter, every step is being scrutinized by both panels to ensure that the draft law will also conform with the CAB… constitutional questions in the future could further delay the passage of the law,” Coloma added.

Be patient

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), meanwhile, called on the MILF to be more patient amid reports that MILF commanders were getting restless over the delay in the submission of the draft BBL.

Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, chief of the military’s Public Affairs Office (PAO), also on Sunday said the military leadership fully supports the peace talks and has instructed all military commanders in Mindanao to hold dialogues with their MILF counterparts.

“We stay positive. We don’t want [violence]. That’s the last thing we want. We are fully supportive of the peace process,” Zagala added.

The GPH and MILF peace panels are in the thick of discussions to thresh out problematic provisions in the draft BBL.
The two panels agreed to sit down from August 1 to 10 in Davao City after they failed to agree on a mutually-accepted version of the draft BBL during their workshops in Kuala Lumpur and Manila.

The 10-day meeting is one of the longest working sessions in the peace process.

Chief government negotiator Ferrer had said the two sides will submit the draft BBL to Congress this month.
With WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL

FROM THE INQUIRER

Palace hands-off on calls to ‘re-elect’ Aquino By Kristine Angeli Sabillo |INQUIRER.net2:26 pm | Sunday, August 3rd, 2014


Screengrab from Noynoy Aquino fanpage

MANILA, Philippines – Despite being prohibited by the Philippines Constitution, some netizens are calling for the re-election of President Benigno Aquino III.

Reminding the public of the constitutional ban on re-election of presidents, Malacañang on Sunday said it had no hand in the said campaign.

“Unang-una po ay malinaw ang sinasabi sa ating Konstitusyon na ang bawat halal na Pangulo ay mayroon lamang iisang anim na taon na termino. Kaya kahit na ano man po ang sabihin nila, ang Saligang Batas po natin ang iiral hinggil diyan,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said over the radio.

(First of all, the constitution clearly states that a president only has one six-year term. The constitution will always prevail.)

He said Filipinos should respect the Philippine Constitution.

“Wala po kaming kinalaman sa pagpapahayag na ganyan. ‘Yan po ay spontaneous at natural na pagpapahayag ng saloobin,” he added. (We had nothing to do with such claims. That is just a spontaneous and natural expression of their feelings.)

On Aquino’s Facebook Page, which has 4 million followers, supporters have been posting messages and photos bearing the words “ One More Term” and “Re-Elect Pnoy for 2016.”

* Coloma, however, said that such calls were not surprising because of the nature of social media.

“Wala naman pong kumokontrol niyan. Kaya sa kabila ng mga pahayag na ’yan, ang ipapaalala lang po natin sa kanila ay ‘yung probisyon ng Saligang Batas hinggil sa iisang termino lang na anim na taon, at doon naman po ang puno at dulo ng lahat ng usapin hinggil diyan,” he said. (No one has control over social media. So despite such calls, we would just have to remind the public of the constitutional provision that a president only has one term consisting of six years, and that is where that discussion should end.)

Aquino has lately been receiving flak for various issues, especially the Disbursement Acceleration Program.

But while his performance ratings have been on a decline, Aquino’s followers have also started drumming up support for the beleaguered president.

FROM THE TRIBUNE

Senate frees Abad from more grilling  Written by Angie M. Rosales Monday, 04 August 2014 00:00

DAP ISSUES CAN BE RAISED AT BUDGET HEARINGS — ESCUDERO



Once is enough for Budget Secretary and Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) brains Florencio “Butch” Abad (photo) to face a grilling at the Senate over the unconstitutional Palace money pool as a Palace ally in the Senate discounted yesterday another shot at Abad whose earlier appearance raised more questions than provide answers on DAP.

Abad will have a reprieve from another round of grilling before Senate probers over the DAP controversy but he may be confronted with questions on the issue during budget deliberations in the coming months, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero said as he shot down any possibility of Abad being called anew by his committee on finance to explain and identify DAP fund releases in the light of the coming marathon budget hearings in both Houses of Congress.

Nonetheless, the senator said he will not stop anyone who wants to pursue the issue, especially those left unanswered in the DAP hearing some two weeks ago, during budget deliberations both in the committee level and in plenary debates.

“I’m sure there will be a lot of those who will pose questions concerning DAP in the course of budget deliberations and I will not prevent anyone from throwing questions (on DAP),” Escudero said on radio.

“At least questions were raised and answered on the issue regarding DAP. In the process of the holding of hearings (that we can discuss issues surrounding DAP) so that with the tackling of the budget issue, we can still clear up unanswered questions on the DAP,” he said.

Despite being the chairman of the committee that handles the budget bill, the senator is not willing to sponsor any measure that would introduce any amendments or revisions redefining “savings” in the Constitution, as what is being pursued by Malacanang.

This, even as Escudero himself expressed belief that the motion for reconsideration filed by Malacanang before the Supreme Court, appealing its decision declaring some provisions of DAP as unconstitutional, will likely be junked as well.

“First off, the SC is not about to reverse its decision. That’s very unlikely. So we don’t need to wait for the SC to issue its decision with finality,” he said.

“Personally, I don’t have plans of filing a bill or any bill in relation to that. But any bill that may be referred to my committee, I promise to tackle it but I will make sure that it will not circumvent any law or invent a new name and would only be compliant to the ruling of the high court,” he added.

* Escudero said he has received a copy of the proposed 2015 national budget last Thursday and has not even been halfway reading the voluminous document.

A week after the House of Representatives started its budget hearings, the Senate can call for its own committee hearings.

“We have to make sure that agencies that will be called would not be scheduled in the same date as that in the lower house,” he said.

Senator Grace Poe also urged her colleagues to solicit inputs from members of the opposition, not only former secretaries of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), in seeking to “define” the term “savings” in the national budget.

Poe made the call as the Palace and some allies in the House of Representatives are pursuing the bill clearly defining savings in the light of the recent Supreme Court decision declaring the Executive’s use of unused funds in the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

“It is importante to have a definition. It is in the ambit of the legislature to define certain things and the SC will determine based on existing laws if it’s constitutional or not. My point here is if a definition will be obtained it should not be only Congress, we should consult with past DBM secretaries, let us include the critics like (former DBM Sec. Benjamin) Ben Diokno, some professors of the University of the Philippines (UP), let us include finance experts and those in the government budget to arrive at a fair and just definition.

“Not everybody in Congress is an expert on the crafting of the national budget and we might be accused of using our power to distort the decision of the Supreme Court, for instance,” she said.

The neophyte lawmaker noted the capability of some of her colleagues in providing needed information and interpretation in line with the provisions in the constitution, Poe emphasized though the need to seek some “experts’” advise on the matter to avoid the notion that legislations are merely circumventing the SC ruling and support Malacanang to continue with the implementation of the DAP.

She said a definition of savings, expressed either in a joint resolution to be passed by both Houses of Congress or in the General Appropriation Act (GAA), will avoid confusion in its utilization.

“If there is no definition of terms in the Constitution, there would be confusion,” Poe said.

The high court declared unconstitutional the withdrawal of un-obligated funds and their declaration as savings; the funding of projects, activities, and programs not covered by the General Appropriations Act; and the “cross-border” transfer of savings by the executive branch.

These, the SC said, were “in violation of Section 25(5) of Article VI of the 1987 Constitution and the doctrine of separation of powers.”

The ruling also “declares void the use of un-programmed funds despite the absence of a certification by the National Treasurer that the revenue collections exceeded the revenue targets for non-compliance with the conditions provided in the relevant General Appropriations Act.”

FROM ABS-CBN

Malacanang defends Kris' support of PNoy ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at 08/03/2014 1:28 PM | Updated as of 08/03/2014 1:28 PM

MANILA - Malacanang said presidential sister, showbiz personality Kris Aquino, is not doing anything wrong in calling for support for her brother, President Benigno Aquino III.

In an interview with radio dzRB, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the TV host has the right to express her sentiments being the sister of the President.

“Madali naman pong maunawaan ang konteksto at kahulugan ng kanyang sinabi dahil ito naman ay likas na saloobin ng mga magkakapatid hinggil sa kanilang kapatid. Tayo pong mga Pilipino ay mapagmahal sa ating mga kapatid at malapit po ang ating pakikipag-ugnayan sa lahat ng kasapi ng ating pamilya,” he said.

There’s nothing “unusual” in what the youngest in the Aquino siblings is trying to do, he said.

“‘Yun naman pong okasyon kung saan siya nagsalita ay noong pagkatapos ng misa sa alaala ni dating Pangulong Corazon Aquino sa ika-limang anibersaryo ng kanyang pagpanaw. Ito ay bahagi nung kanyang pasasalamat sa ngalan ng kanilang pamilya, sa lahat ng mga sumama sa kanila sa pag-alala sa ating mahal na dating Pangulo,” he said.

* During the fifth death anniversary of President Corazon Aquino, the TV host slammed the critics of his brother and asked that supporters rally around him.

“I think I have the right to speak because Noy knows how big the tax I have [been paying] ...So I think I do have the right to speak since it really is big,” Kris said.

She went on to say that the President needs the support of the public more than ever.

“He can’t do it on his own. We need to stand by him and give him strength. And please pray with us also that he stays alive,” she said.

“Our simple prayer is Dear God, please guide Noy, give him strength, help him. Give him inspiration, make him stronger, and may those who believe in him make him feel that he is not alone every day.”

FROM THE AUTO-INDUSTRYA.COM

One thousand days of President Noynoy Aquino  Text: Tito F. Hermoso / Photos: posted July 01, 2013 12:02

The Pnoy administration countdown



The blame game

With elections over and a near clean sweep to boot, the Pnoy administration, in typical 'all hands on deck' one-track-focus now faces the rains, floods, traffic and a stock exchange plunge. As is the case of looking for someone to blame under the guise of 'command responsibility', heads were due to roll, so what's new?

It also rains in Seattle

It rains every year in the tropics and when you have cities where any piece of land bigger than a thousand square meters, right astride a main thoroughfare, it instantly becomes a marketable mid rise or high rise condo, so where will all that rain water go? Don't forget that besides the limited number of waterways that nature provided our Metro, now clogged with the detritus of congestion, there have been no new man made water channels to drain it all out to a nearby bay or lake.

Wait for 2035

Thankfully the government rolled out its flood master plan of dredging and clearing river systems around the Metro, which will unfold for the next several years until completion in 2035. But what about for immediate traffic relief? The Metro, for sheer lack of any ring roads beside C5 and EDSA, is already congested even during the dry season.

Pipe dreams?

Help was supposed to be on its way in the way of not one but two, elevated cross town expressways. The Skyway Stage 3 from Buendia to Balintawak and the NLEx Connector from NLEx Harbor Link to a Skyway Stage 3 junction over PUP in Manila was scheduled for delivery by the end of the Pnoy term, hence burnishing his image as the PPP President. But as of this writing, the Swiss Challenge to the NLEx connector has not yet happened while Metro Pacific is rushing to build the NLEx extension towards MacArthur Highway in Valenzuela, which will then be the starting point of the Harbor Link from Valenzuela to Letre, which will be joined to the NLEx connector.

Stuck by sticking to details

* And the Skyway Stage 3? All set up raring to go ever since 2011, after all, the Skyway system was approved long ago during the FVR era. So why isn't there any pile boring on C3 or preparatory ROW purchases going on? There are supposed to be issues as to PNCC's involvement in the project, considering that the PNCC has ceased to exist. But PNCC was once the sole government monopoly for toll roads for many decades. Would that be sufficient cause to delay the start of Skyway Stage 3 construction, considering the Pnoy administration's own legacy deadline?

Snail rail

Skyway Stage 3 [and NLEx connector] is even more important considering that increasing air passenger traffic in the four NAIA terminals and DMIA is forcing the government to coordinate operations of both airports. The envisioned DMIA-NAIA rail link is still a pipe dream which will nevertheless still have to go through the DoTC wringer which seems to be setting a new record in snail's pace approval of transportation projects related to rail.

Optimal traffic

San Miguel's Optimal Infrastructure pricey PPP winning bid for the NAIA toll Skyway, which will incidentally use Citra-Skyway's 'Sosrobahu' rotating pier-head design, makes it more imperative to get Skyway Stage 3 going if only to ease daily North-South traffic that crosses Metro Manila. To emphasize the NAIA Skyway's importance, DPWH postponed construction of their own EDSA roller-coaster Skyway [toll free] from Malibay, Pasay to Roxas boulevard so as not to aggravate the already awful traffic conditions in this southern portion of the Metro.

No easy trip

The Skyway Stage 3 delay, is not the only puzzle obvious to us outsiders. There's the NLEx-SCTEx O&M integration, which has been revised ad nauseaum since 2010. Meantime, BCDA shoulders the interest payments of the JBIC loan that built the SCTEx while Metro Pacific Tollways, the operators of the NLEx were more than willing to shoulder/subsidize those payments, partly with the larger operations income of the NLEx. To us north bound travelers, President Aquino included, integration of the NLEx with the SCTEx will not only mean being able to use the Easy Trip electronic toll payment system in Subic and Tarlac, but also means the elimination of the NLEx Dau and SCTEx Mabalacat toll plazas. And if all goes to plan, even the Skyway's E-Pass may soon be honored in the north with Easy Trip being interoperable in the South too.

What inheritance?

Coming into the last thousand days of the Pnoy administration, presumably a preparatory prelude to the 1st thousand days of a Mar one, will we see a smooth turnover of working infra projects? A seamless NLEx-SCTEx where Pnoy, the PPP President, just barrels thru the Dau and Mabalacat toll plazas - as both will no longer be standing - on his way to beloved Luisita? Not likely. So what new highway can Pnoy pass on to his buddy Mar, if he does become nation's 5th president post '86 people power revolution? Daang Hari Expwy? Perhaps a quarter portion of TPLEx and the Plaridel bypass highway, started under GMA's term. Sadly, many of the hopeful infra projects projected and started in 2010 might have to wait for the next president to even get them going.

We know, we know

But we all know what happened. Instead of fast tracking whatever infra projects were in the pipeline, most were frozen by a newly installed amateur/trainee bureaucracy aimed at scrutinizing study and endless postponement. And casting out programs and people of previous administrations except Cory's. And since then the tinkering with the Build Operate and Transfer concept never ceased. Endless revisions and postponements only sap the zeal and eagerness of any infrastructure investor in our creaking infrastructure, whether PPP or government project procurement bidder. The list is a long one and some, unfortunately, are a throwback to Mar's tenure at the DoTC. Ticketing, maintenance and train additions at the MRT. The Cavite extension of the LRT-1. The LRT-MRT link at SM-City Trinoma. The LRT 7 that shadows the North Luzon East Expressway through Commonwealth Ave., La Mesa Dam Parkway all the way to San Jose del Monte in Bulacan.

Counterflow!

So in the meantime, while traffic reaches grid lock all across the flooded Metro, MMDA is again considering counterflow lanes on EDSA, spurred by the success of the morning counterflow on the Rockwell flyover. Historically, Gov. Mel Mathay of the Metro Manila Commission tried that in the 70s on an EDSA that had less lanes, less cars, less buses and lots of traffic light junctions. Recall too that EDSA still didn't have the MRT in the median nor the inspired Bayani U-turns called Lee Kwan U. But it didn't work. How would it work now that the MRT is in place and all those U-turns have replaced the traffic light junctions?

Try it?

Though it may be difficult to pull it off today, it may still be worth a try if only to assuage Pnoy's underlings who would like to hand him some kind of traffic experiment success. The counterflow can start in the morning at 8AM and last up to 11AM. It will only serve as a counterflow express lane for Ortigas Ctr/C5 bound traffic, starting at an opening under the MRT somewhere near the median fronting Phil Am Life homes, returning to the regular EDSA lanes just before Ortigas flyover. Only HOV or High Occupancy Vehicles can be allowed. These are cars or Utility vehicles with one driver and at least 2 passengers. There can be no stopping on the counterflow lane and MMDA should be vigilant against illegal left turns or U-turns into the numerous side streets from NIA road, New York, Main Ave., White Plains Ave, etc. Rescue vehicles must be at the ready to clear any blockage on this one lane express lane. Just think of all the traffic cones that need to be planted and uprooted everyday. The opposite direction, in the evenings is difficult to counterflow as EDSA Shaw is always packed with vehicles in both directions from 5PM to 9PM. There may be light traffic on the Balintawak bound direction from EDSA Shaw to Phil Am Life Homes, but it is not a daily certainty.

The Legacy

So what can the PPP President claim to leave behind in 2016? An economic growth model based on high exchange rates and high interest rates, plus an endless stream of self congratulatory press releases and surveys stoking and raising business confidence to an all time high. Indeed, we did need and many of us rode the long feel good wave, skimming the boundaries of irrational exuberance. And indeed, such an economic model was only for the short term as the US Fed pulled the plug. Thus it proved to be only a short term distraction after being obsessed with winning the mid term election, then looking for someone to blame for the annual rainy season floods and then further moving on to a soaring/plunging stock market.

The Reality

It was too good to last for it is a given that this economic model will only attract hot money and not FDI [foreign direct investment], which is the kind that increases jobs, builds factories, infrastructure and expands the local manufacturing base. It seems that protecting the purchasing power of OFW remittances, the biggest dollar earner, was not a priority. Neither is expanding exports and employment. Or giving the BPO industry a leg up. No. The priority seemed to be to keep country borrower/credit ratings up, keep the stock market on a boil – as if it wasn't volatile intrinsically – pamper the gambling industry and churn the BOT into a highest bidder auction now called the PPP.

Deserve failing marks?

But it wont matter to the clique that has the Presidential ear as what counts are the spinmeister spun favorable press releases. What is preferred is hubris, product of fawning loyalists, over the expert criticism from genuine and sincere economists. Along with this pride, comes blindness to the truth. Yes, the lawyers, CPAs and MBAs will say that it's a valid economic model. Especially if you want exclusion of the unemployed which no CCT program can ever afford to dole out too. If they can be capable of being honest, much as they are inclined to be the biased judge of their own work, would they dare give themselves a passing grade in introductory Economics?

Let him drink/drive in peace

Considering our high hopes and the steady and almost unassailable popularity of his administration, we wouldn't be surprised if the nation will be grateful for what looks a like a picayune infrastructure heritage, the high cost of battling the corruption ghosts of administrations past..

Well, at least Pnoy made most of us feel good about ourselves. Besides, he can be credited with planting the infrastructure seeds for harvesting by the next administration, whether it be Mar, Jejomar, Grace and, why not, Erap again. And by then, no one should begrudge Pnoy the right to enjoy owning and driving his Porsche, whether pre-owned or otherwise, for a quick late night 'easy trip' dash to Luisita via SCTEx or to Consulado for a night cap.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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