Senate should stop P8.9 billion building construction

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit Avila (The Philippine Star) - July 2, 2020 - 12:00am

I have lived long enough in my 69 years to have seen the many political changes in the Philippines. This is why for me, aside from our current fight against COVID-19, what our nation needs is an honest-to-goodness change in our political system. Just a few days ago, I saw a group photo of members of the Legislature posing for a photograph. I’m sure that the photo was taken long before the days of COVID-19, but the caption under the photo and the article were very recent. It said that while the Philippine economy has caused many people to lose their jobs and companies shut down, Congress continues to earn from taxpayers… mention the monies given to them in the hundreds of millions… while the Filipino people suffer.

This is very true, this is why I was against the construction of the P8.9 luxurious Senate building at the Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, the construction of which is expected to be finished on July 21, 2021. This was vehemently defended by no less than Sen. Panfilo Lacson. This building is located on an 18,320 square meter parcel of land owned by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, located at the Navy Village. To date this building is still under construction and I would just like to point out to our readers that the P8.9 billion for this building will only be used for 24 Senators and their staff.

Of course, I don’t expect Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to comment on this because knowing the President, he believes in the separation of powers of the Legislative, the Judiciary and the Executive branches. So it is us the Filipino people who must make demands to the Senate to stop the construction of this luxurious edifice especially in these times when there is a global pandemic that has hit the world’s economies.

Mind you we just learned that luxurious brand companies like Victoria’s Secret just declared bankruptcy, famous stores like Zara has shut down 1,200 stores worldwide, Patek Philippe watches has stopped production, so too with the famous Rolex brands. Even Starbucks has shut down 400 stores worldwide. What we are seeing is the collapse of luxury brands worldwide in just three months under this global pandemic. So let us hope that our Senators would open their minds and hearts to the suffering of the Filipino people especially at a time when a great majority of our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have to return home because there are no jobs in their host countries.

In another issue that has gone viral in social media is proposed bill at the House of Representatives that seeks to rename the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Pilipinas, this comes from House Bill 7031. What many people do not realize is that his has always been a political issue because, clearly, it was politics that decided on this naming to begin with. Indeed, the airport was renamed the NAIA, replacing its former name “Manila International Airport”, following approval of Republic Act 6639 in 1987 in just a year after Aquino’s widow, the late Cory Aquino, seized power during the EDSA Revolution in 1986 and in the year the current Constitution was enacted to legitimize her government. This is very understandable.

However I have always believed that any government building, streets, towns, schools or bridges should never be named after politicians. If I am against the proposed bill, it is because no one can understand or even say Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Pilipinas. I know too well that the people from the Visayas and Mindanao would have a hard time saying this words and of course foreign pilots, and would have a huge trouble saying this over the microphone. So I dare say to leave NAIA’s name simply because Ramon Ang’s international airport in Bulacan has already started construction. Since this airport is still unnamed, call it the Manila International Airport and I’m sure we would have no problem with such an arrangement.

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It turned out that Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu is seeking the support of Cebuanos in the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) in a move supported by no less than Senate President Vicente Sotto III last Tuesday who said that his father hailed from Cebu and Cebuanos have this distant attitude toward outsiders. As the Senate President pointed out, “I think they should send or make a representative in Cebu that comes from Cebu. Mayroong mentality kung minsan ang mga Cebuano pag galing sa Maynila medyo aloof. I have to be very blunt about it.

I heard that Sen. Sotto appointed Erik Espina to the IATF-EID, the TV host of “Ang Republika” over MyTV channel 30. Espina is a very active reservist and a General in the AFP and last year ran for Cebu City councilor but failed to make it. Although I haven’t gotten any information on whether his appointment has been approved, but I’m sure that many Cebuanos approve of his inclusion to the IATF.

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