Weeding out corruption

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas - The Philippine Star

A besieged Public Works Secretary Mark Villar has made it clear that he continues to enjoy the trust and confidence of President Duterte even after the Chief Executive raised the problem of corruption in the agency. A later report said the corruption was done by the department’s underlings, and a task force has been created to weed them out.

An observer told this columnist that the secretary may be very young he could not detect anomalies done under his nose. Or if he has known all about the goings-on by underlings, he could not do something about it – thanks to President Duterte’s intervention, investigation into the charges will be done.

“Full trust and confidence po [ang Presidente] kay Secretary Villar dahil despite the corruption in DPWH, naka-deliver po si Secretary Villar,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque told a news conference.

“We have been one in President Duterte’s fight against corruption since 2016,” Villar said. “Our first project was the creation of an Infratrack system – a geographic information system employing geo-tagging technology which would detect ghost projects. Now, every district office in DPWH is equipped with drones for monitoring.”

The recorded activities by drone monitoring hopefully should show who and how perpetrators conduct their out-of-box thievery right under Villar’s nose. Villar’s media bureau challenges critics to look for corruption rearing its ugly head in the following projects:

Construction of the entire 18-km stretch of the Skyway Stage 3 project, linking the northern and southern portion of Metro Manila that is already completed.

Villar has been quoted as saying, “From the onset of his administration, President Duterte has worked to decongest EDSA. The completion of the girder construction of Skyway Stage 3 shows the President’s political will to connect every city in Metro Manila within a 30-mintue frame.”

Skyway Stage 3 is one of 23 projects aimed at decongesting EDSA, a 90-year-old 23.8-km circumferential highway.

The Skyway Stage 3 is an 18-km elevated expressway spaning from Buendia in Makati to Balintawak in Quezon City. It is composed of five sections: Buendia-Quirino Avenue-Nagtahan; Nagtahan-Aurora Blvd/ Ramon Magsaysay Avenue; Ramon Magsaysay Avenue-Quezon Avenue, and Quezon Avenue- Balintawak.

Villar noted that when Skyway Stage 3 is opened, travel time from SLEX to NLEX will be reduced from two hours to only 30 minutes. Travel from Makati to Quezon City will take only 20 minutes.

Before 2022 ends, travel time from NAIA to Balintawak will only be 20 minutes. Valenzuela to Makati will only be 15 minutes.

Earlier this year, two big-ticket projects under the EDSA Decongestion Master Plan was also completed: the NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10, a 5.58-km, 6-lane divided elevated expressway utilizing the existing PNR railroad tracks connecting McArthur Highway, C-3 road in Caloocan and Malabon, and the NLEX Harbor Link R-10 Exit Ramp – a 2.6-km, 4-lane elevated ramp which connects Caloocan, Malabon and Valenzuela to Manila.

Other projects include the BGC-Ortigas Link Bridge, the NLEX-SLEX Connector, the Pantaleon Estrella Bridge, the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge, the Lawton Avenue, the Katipunan Extension and the Laguna Lake Expressway, among others.

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At first glance, Alex Lacson’s book, Five Hundred Years Without Love, brings back to mind Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s book One Hundred Years of Solitude. Except that while the Nobel laureate Marquez’s obra maestra is about “the irreconcilable conflict between the desire for solitude and the need for love,” Lacson’s is a gripping novel about life under 500 years of social ills – from the Spanish times to the present day’s social malaise resulting in the continuing massive poverty, powerlessness and misery among majority of the Filipino people.

Lacson’s novel, written in simple, readable narrative, relates the story of the Hinirang family victimized by the greed and ruthlessness of influential people – the social-justice-seeking father and son’s being gunned down and an OFW sister’s killing in the Middle East. Lacson’s stories tell of the cruel periods under Spanish, Japanese and American rules over the country – and, exploitation of Filipinos by Filipinos.

Lacson’s main story teller, Anton Hinirang, speaks of his family’s tragic ends – a microcosm of the 500 years of Filipinos’ living without love.

Ironically, Christianity was introduced in the country in 1521; last year, in the Year 2021, Anton asks, did the Philippines become “one of the world’s ugliest versions of Christianity, and of free market capitalism?”

In the last chapter, Lacson writes “A Dream Philippines” – a package of reforms which he believes, if implemented, could change the course of the country’s destiny.

Lacson is the author of the bestselling epigrams, “12 Little things Every Filipino Can Do to Help Our Country.” A lawyer by profession, he has written five other books that promote love and sacrifice for our country and the Filipino people. Five Hundred Years is his first novel.

He writes that while Jose Rizal’s novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo are required reading for Grade 9 or 10 junior high school students, their average age 16, he thinks it is important “for our youth to study and understand the present-day social ills of our country. They need to understand what keeps the country poor and weak, and what keeps their families and millions of other Filipino families in poverty.”

To order a book, deposit P400 per copy plus P150 delivery fee if within Metro Manila. If outside Metro Manila, email your address first to [email protected]. You may pay through the following payment channels: 1) BPI AC#8060003409 in the name Alay Pinoy PH; 2) PAYPAL under account name ALAY PINOY and 3) PAYMAYA under the name of ALAY PINOY. Take a picture of the deposit slip with your complete name and address plus mobile number, and email to [email protected].

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The internet keeps us informed about anything – and everything! – under the sun. Even in driving cockroaches out of our kitchen and any part of our homes. Here’s how: Put a tablespoonful of baking soda in an open container, then mix in an equal amount of white sugar. Place container in spots where the pests keep house. In the next few days, you will see no signs of cockroaches as they have gone to other more hospitable places.

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Email: [email protected]

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