During the last days of 2015, people were all in anticipation with what should be the biggest news on the first day of 2016, President Noynoy Aquino and my “favorite” Transportation Secretary Jun (P)Abaya being run over by a train because they apparently could not keep their promise of having the construction of the 11.7 kilometer Line 1 South Extension from Baclaran to Bacoor in Cavite by the end of 2015.
It was a promise first uttered at the height of the campaign period for the 2013 midterm elections as Aquino was campaigning for his senatorial bets in Cavite. It also happens that (P)Abaya was also a congressman of the province before joining the cabinet and is also a high-ranking official of the administration party. Put the elements together and…I guess you get the picture. In a way, Aquino was dangling a carrot in an effort to boost his bets’ chances in the vote-rich province.
What exacerbated the matter was the fact that Aquino told the audience there that he has a “word of honor” or something that he intends to keep and (P)Abaya’s presence also implied that there’s this guarantee that the project would be done at the soonest time possible. But now it’s 2016 and Aquino’s term is about to end in June but still, not a single work has been done to signal the commencement of the project at least. And the people, especially those in Cavite are up in arms as it has been over 20 years and still no progress has been made for this long overdue project.
Realistically speaking, we cannot expect those two promise-breakers to keep their word and allow themselves to be run over by a train. But for the commuting public, especially those in southwest Metro Manila and Cavite, who have long been waiting for a mass transit system in the area to ease the worsening traffic, they desperately want it to happen out of the frustration and anger at what seems to be the incompetence of the government officials who are supposed to make this almost PHP 65 biliion project become a reality.
The question at the moment is: what happened? Why the delay? Now the “official” explanation of the Transportation Department was that there were hiccups encountered during the bidding which happened after Aquino made that now infamous statement. In addition, (P)Abaya encountered difficulties in taking public welfare into consideration vis-a-vis the profitability of the project, considering this project is a public-private partnership (PPP) endeavor. That is if you believe whatever crap he is spewing to get out of the mess they themselves created.
But in any case, there is now a private partner who will help build the Line 1 South Extension, the Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC) which is a joint venture of Ayala Corporation and the Metro Pacific Group. The LRMC has already taken over management of the Line 1 itself, though the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) still owns the line itself, and is preparing to start building the south extension…well, whenever it may be. We can only hope that there will be at least SOME activity connected to the project that we should see within this year. At this point, we will take any update so we can be assured that this is for real, even a simple digging of the site would do. Just give us something already!
We can only hope that with a new administration coming in this year, this project would not be shelved yet again, considering continuity is something government officials consider as a crime especially if their predecessors are not necessarily their allies or patrons. Just look at what Aquino did to the Northrail project that was initiated by his predecessor Gloria Arroyo. Now Aquino cancelled the project because of the alleged corruption involved in the project. Then again, the guy hates Arroyo so much.
But since the project has been green-lighted already, there is a good chance that whoever will succeed Aquino, the project will carry on at least. Then again, citing again the Northrail project, there is still the possibility of cancellation as in the case of Northrail, the posts were already erected when it was decided to scrap the project altogether.
Unless the next president is Mar Roxas. But as far as the overall rail transport development is concerned, don’t count Mar Roxas that much. He seems to hate railways.
Our metropolis and our country as a whole would benefit from more railroad systems to be built to spur the country’s overall development not just in transportation. We cannot afford to have another railroad-hater like Aquino at the helm again and fuck up the country’s railroad development.
And not keeping his promises as well.