Road widening? Let's change the system first!


I noticed that the people against the flyovers have put up posters signifying their protest using a logo that showed a heart for Cebu. How dare this people claim their love for Cebu only now? Where were they when the Infrastructure and Development Committee (IDC) chaired by Manny Rabacal approved or endorsed these flyover projects way back in 2005 up to 2011? That’s a whole six years of total silence from the noisy people today who claim their love for Cebu? Are you telling us that we do not love Cebu just because we believe that flyovers work to decongest traffic? Excuse me!

 The oppositors want to use the money for flyovers to widen our roads. This is exactly what our Master Plan called the Metro Cebu Land Use and Transportation Studies (MCLUTS) did in the 1990s when it widened our narrow roads, like B. Rodriguez (how many people remember that this street had a two-lane Bailey bridge huh?), V. Rama Avenue and opened up the Imus Road, which was part of the old Cebu Railway? Mind you, when those roads were widened, traffic wasn’t nearly as intolerable as it is today. This is the foresight of our national government back in those days. But their biggest problem was it just took too long to implement these projects.

 Perhaps you may want to know why didn’t the Metro Cebu Development Projects (MCDP) I, II & III continue this widening project? In truth, the reason why MCDP was shutdown was due to the fact that our funding agency, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and its officials and consultants had to report to their principals in Japan and they could no longer understand why we Filipinos used up the money for road projects to pay for the lot owners living beside the roads that were widened.

 Few Cebuanos realize that Japan too has roads that are so narrow; they had to build small cars that could pass through these narrow roads. Remember the Mitsubishi Minica or the Toyota Mini-Ace 25 years ago? These are a few examples of Japanese small vehicles that reached Philippine shores. The principals of JICA are Japanese politicians who are answerable to their own constituents and they could no longer explain to their people why Japan had to pay Cebuano lot owners for the road widening, when patriotism calls for one to give up his property, which increases in value after the road has been widened anyway? But then they say, “Patay na si Rizal!”

 I was Road-Right-of-Way Chairman of MCDP for many years and we experienced problems during the widening of A. S. Fortuna, B. Rodriguez, Imus Road and V. Rama that delayed the project for at least five years. Hence, JICA declared that they would no longer fund any road projects to the Philippines if they had to pay the lot owners affected by the widening. JICA said that they would only give funds to road projects that the Philippine government already widened from its own funds. Hence, the road widening was stopped as the Philippine government doesn’t have the funds for it!

 But yes, some roads really need to be widened and this is exactly what we did way back in the year 2002 when the Escario St. from Gorordo Ave. to Arch. Reyes Avenue was widened. I checked with DPWH Cebu City District Engineer Nicomedes Leonor as to the details of the Escario widening project, which today is still unfinished, and he texted me this information:

 “N.G. Escario Ext. Widening: 1st Released CY 2002 (P21,375,746-for Road Right of Way (RRW) acquisition.) 2nd Release CY 2007 (P8,000,000.00) 3rd Release CY 2008 (P18,259,866 for RRW acquisition) P6,749,114 for Civil Works a total of P25 Million completed Oct.2010. 4th release P32 Million (P24,379,400 for RRW acquisition) P6,493,731 for Civil Works) Target date for completion April 24, 2010.” I have worked with Engr. Leonor way back during my RRW Chairman days and he is not happy with the present system of funding releases practiced by the government.

 The problem lies upon the reality that we live under a centralized system of governance, which is no longer working. The last biggest centralized system of government that collapsed under its own weight was the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR). It is for this reason why I have been batting for a federalized system of government where we would have a more direct use for the money we pay from our taxes because in a Federal System, we will have our own Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

 Last Thursday, I attended the special RDC Infra meeting called by RDC Chair Mayor Mike Rama and you will see a lot of flyovers for the approaches to the new and old Mactan Bridge, the widening of H. Cortes and two other flyovers in Mandaue City. But there are no oppositors to the flyovers there simply because; these projects have not been politicized. Here in Cebu City, because Rep. Tomas Osmeña is for the flyovers, then naturally Mayor Rama is against it. So why not stop the damn politics first?

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