As I See It

Edsa repairs may fund LP poll campaign


Oh no, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will go ahead with its bullheaded plan to “repair” the whole length of Edsa before alternate routes are found for the thousands of vehicles that will be displaced from Edsa because of the repair work. The repairs will take two years, which means Edsa will be hell on earth for at least two years. The DPWH has been able to convince Metro Manila mayors to agree to the massive repairs, and some people have already voiced their suspicions of the reasons the mayors were persuaded.

The Metro Manila Development Authority, which was given the dirty work of finding alternative routes, has decided to make life hell on earth also for the residents of exclusive villages near Edsa. It is asking these villages to allow vehicles to pass through their streets at all times during all the days of the week. The villages have not yet given their consent, but the DPWH has already made noises as if it is a done deal. It is in a hurry to have the work started.

Imagine what will happen in these villages: Thousands of vehicles will pass through their village roads at all hours, every day, beside their bedroom windows, creating noise and air pollution. The residents would not be able to sleep because of the noise and they have to keep their windows closed. Still the dust stirred up by the vehicles will seep into their houses and blanket with dust everything inside and outside their homes, including the manicured gardens and lawns. The daily traffic jams on Edsa will be transferred to the roads of these villages. Residents will have a difficult time driving their own vehicles in and out of their garages because their streets will be jammed with outsiders’ vehicles.

In other countries, the contractors erect temporary overpasses over the portions of streets being repaired so that traffic flow is not impaired. Not in the Philippines. It is easier and cheaper to transfer the problem from government to private families in their homes.

And why is the DPWH in a hurry? Is Edsa in such a state of disrepair that it is urgent to overhaul it now? No. I pass through Edsa at least twice a day and I find nothing wrong with it except the infernal traffic jams. If Edsa is hell now, imagine how much more hellish it would be with very slow repairs going on through its whole length. And that would go on not only for a few days or weeks, it would go on and on and on and on for two long years!

If it is not urgent, why is the DPWH in a hurry to fix it now? The DPWH’s excuse is that there will be two international conferences here in two years. What a shallow excuse.

The delegates will not pass through Edsa. From the airport to their hotels, they will pass through Roxas Boulevard.

The DPWH says that after the repairs, Edsa will be as “smooth as NLEx.” Is it necessary to make Edsa “as smooth as NLEx”? No. Vehicles will not be able to speed through Edsa as fast as they do on NLEx and SLEx no matter how “smooth” it is because of the traffic jams. Motorists will be much happier with the traffic flow made to move smoothly rather than with a smooth road with traffic jams.

Wouldn’t it be more practical to make the repairs during the summer vacations when hundreds of thousands of students would not be going to school? Or during the Holy Week when most of Metro Manila’s vehicles would be in the provinces?

So why is the DPWH in a hurry? Some suspicious people have the answer: Because of the elections. Part of the almost P4-billion Edsa budget may be used to fund the administration’s election campaign, they suspect. How?

Here’s how: Such a massive repair job will require many contractors. The contractors get 50 percent of the contract budget before any work is started. Fifty percent of P4 billion is P2 billion. The average commission, or kickback, that a contractor coughs up is 30 percent. How much is 30 percent of P2 billion? Get your calculator out and you will find a Yamashita treasure there. That will go to the campaign kitties of administration candidates. So you see why it is important to start the Edsa repairs now.

Poll campaigning in the Philippines is very expensive and politicians have to be resourceful in gathering campaign funds. Businessmen have already been squeezed dry. Some of them make an excuse to travel abroad when the campaign season nears. It is more economical to travel abroad than to be squeezed for donations by politicians. Even “jueteng” lords are complaining. That is why politicians are turning more and more to public funds for campaign expenses.

* * *

This Valentine’s Day, take your wife, mistress, lover, sweetheart, girlfriend or “friend-girl” to the Tap Room of the Manila Hotel and enjoy “An Evening of Love Songs with Margaux.”

Who is Margaux? If you still don’t know that Margaux Salcedo is the newest singing rage in the local music scene, then you are out of the loop. Get inside the loop and listen to her so that when your friends talk about music and singers, you can join in the conversation and not be left out.

Watch her Valentine Day’s show and you will become a fan.

What’s more, when Margaux croons her love songs, your favorite theme songs, you and your lover will fall in love with each other all over again—and it will put you in the mood to make love the rest of the night.

Her show starts at 9.30 p.m. at the Tap Room. Make reservations at the Manila Hotel front desk.

* * *

KAPIHAN NOTES: Kapihan sa Manila at the Diamond Hotel resumes this morning. Guests will be United Nationalist Alliance senatorial candidates JV Estrada (formerly Ejercito), Grace Poe (formerly Llamanzares), and Ernesto Maceda (formerly Senate president). Other UNA and Team PNoy candidates, senatorial and local, will be interviewed, in succeeding Kapihans.

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Tags: 2013 midterm elections , DPWH , Edsa repairs , Liberal Party , MMDA

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