The true state of Quezon City | Inquirer Opinion
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The true state of Quezon City

/ 12:10 AM October 13, 2014

Quezon City is celebrating its Diamond Jubilee year with fireworks, a food festival, a concert at the park, awards to outstanding institutions and individuals of Quezon City, plenty of speeches, etc.—the works. Quezon City officials led by Mayor Herbert Bautista may be too busy patting themselves on the back so that they probably do not realize where they are leading the former capital city, and I think this is the best time to open their eyes and make them know what their constituents think. I will start with a letter sent to me by a reader, one Dante G. Huerta, to which I am certain plenty of citizens agree. It reads: “Inscribed on one of the pillars of the Quezon City Hall are the following words of the late President Manuel L. Quezon: “’I dream of a capital city that politically shall be the seat of the national government; aesthetically, the showplace of the nation.’

“The late President could be turning in his grave with what has been made of Quezon City today, namely: “Squatters within its prime lots.

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“Litter on the streets, especially where there are sidewalk vendors, jeepney terminals, pedestrian overpasses.

“Increasing number of sidewalk vendors along major highways/avenues/streets (Edsa, Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon Avenue, Agham Road, etc.), causing heavy traffic and producing trash around the thoroughfares.

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“Increasing number of tricycles and pedicabs using as terminals corners of—and counterflowing along—major streets.

“Quezon City is the center of the mass media of communications (television, radio, newspapers) in the country and yet the problems are left unnoticed and not tackled by or brought to the attention of the government by the media.”

The letter is an indictment of both the Quezon City government and the mass media.

On the latter, aside from what the letter-writer said, I would like to add this note: There is a Quezon City press club with an office on the second floor of the City Hall administration building, and yet many controversial issues involving the city government go unreported by the City Hall reporters. (What they report are only the press releases of the city government.) Among them are the land-grabbing by the city government of the Manila Seedling Bank Foundation gardens, the existence of a jeepney terminal and talipapa on Elliptical Road and along East Avenue beside the City Hall grounds, the “existence” of ghost employees of councilors and the P4-million pork barrel of each councilor.

Mayor Bautista said in his message to his constituents that he wants Quezon City to be a “green” city. If that is so, why is he allowing the remaining open spaces in the city to be turned into concrete jungles, as witness, again, the site of the Manila Seedling Bank gardens and the areas around it which would be turned into another complex of malls, office buildings and condominiums by Ayala Land?

He also said he wants to address the housing and health needs of the people of Quezon City. So why is Quezon City still “the squatter capital” of the Philippines? The city government is collecting from property owners an extra “housing tax” in addition to the regular real estate tax. He said the money would be used to build homes for the squatters so that the lots occupied by them would be returned to their owners. Bautista’s term is about to end, but many areas in the city are still occupied by squatter colonies. What happened to the money collected from the property owners?

As for the health needs of his constituents, the National Kidney and Transplant Institute on East Avenue, the Philippine Children’s Medical Center on Quezon Avenue, and the Veterans Memorial Medical Center and its golf course on North Avenue were almost taken over by greedy land developers without so much as a whimper from City Hall. It was the vigilance of the people that stopped these pieces of property from being grabbed by real estate developers. The Manila Seedling Bank site on Quezon Avenue, which served as a “lung” for the city, was illegally grabbed by a land developer with help from City Hall itself, using Gestapo methods in the demolition of the gardens and buildings.

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City Hall itself would have grabbed the Commonwealth Avenue campus of the University of the Philippines, now the site of the UP-Ayala Technohub, had not the Supreme Court stopped it.

President Quezon reserved the area bounded by North, East, West and Timog Avenues as the central park of his capital city. Now the whole area is gone. The only park left in Quezon City is the minuscule Quezon Memorial Park opposite City Hall. And look at what the new park administrator is doing to it. The park is now crammed with structures and the homes of squatters disguised as sari-sari stores. Less than 10 percent of the original park is open space with grass.

City Hall even wanted to take over the adjacent Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Nature Center of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. If it had succeeded in doing that, the center would have been converted by the same land developer-friend of City Hall into another concrete jungle.

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TAGS: Mayor Herbert Bautista, Metro, news, Quezon City
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