POSTSCRIPT / October 15, 2020 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Cayetano or Velasco --it’s same banana!

THERE was no need to replace Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano with Lord Allan Velasco if the objective was to effect change. The House could have opted instead to install two Speakers and enjoy the stereophonic sounds in President Duterte’s legislative echo chamber.

In the same way that the Taguig-Pateros constituency was split to create space for the Cayetano congressional couple, they could have divided the House of Representatives into a Lower House and maybe a Middle House, each with its own Speaker.

Even after Cayetano’s replacement by Velasco, it was still the same banana. The ever-loyal House still functions as an annex of Malacañang, a departure from the constitutional concepts of separation of powers, and of check and balance.

The lead actors did not even bother to hide the fact of Duterte directing the show. Like they have never heard of phones and runners, Cayetano and Velasco did not mind being seen, and videotaped, scurrying to the Palace and receiving the President’s marching orders.

After Velasco and his supporters hied to a nearby sports club to hold a caucus and vowed to elect him as the new Speaker, Cayetano – presumably catching the signals from the Palace — took to the internet to announce he was resigning.

There was really no need for him to step down since by that time a majority of 186 congressmen in the House plenary hall had ousted him and installed Velasco as Speaker.

What happened to the 205 supposed supporters of Cayetano? We hope accounting personnel do not develop a splitting headache checking who among the solons got paid or rewarded twice for their ambivalent votes or pledges.

With eyes on bigger battles ahead, Cayetano apologized Tuesday to Duterte for “misunderstanding” him as wanting him to finish the budget deliberations before turning over the speakership to the gentleman from Marinduque under a deal brokered by the President.

He said: “Mr. President, if I made a mistake, mali ang reading ko, misunderstood ko na gusto mong ituloy at tapusin ko ang budget, ako’y humihingi ng paumanhin. Hindi ko intention—never—na hindi ka sundin.”

Translation: Cayetano was buying political insurance for 2022.

• Cut SLEx to NLEx 3-hr drive to 20 min

THE ENTIRE 17.93-km stretch of Skyway-3 linking Southern and Northern Luzon expressways has been completed ahead of its Oct. 31 deadline and will soon enable motorists to negotiate the distance in just 20 minutes, instead of the present three hours.

The good news came from San Miguel Corp. president/COO Ramon S. Ang, who said Tuesday that when the rains stop, finishing touches will be completed and the skyway linking South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) and North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) will be opened.

“With the whole structure of Skyway-3 now complete, Skyway 2 in Buendia is now officially extended all the way to NLEx,” Ang said. “After many challenges this project faced in previous years, the dream of connecting north and south and providing an alternative to EDSA is now a reality.”

The question has long festered: If a motorist from the south wants to drive directly to Balintawak and enter NLEx as quickly and as safely as possible, how can he avoid crawling through EDSA, wasting time and gas, and suffering wear and tear?

Now there is an answer: Skim over the metropolis on Skyway-3. In safe and efficient driving, SLEx to NLEx will be just 20 minutes, Magallanes to Balintawak about 15 minutes, Balintawak to Ninoy Aquino International Airport some 15 minutes, and Valenzuela to Makati 10 minutes.

Ang said, however, that Skyway-3 cannot be opened to the public just yet, as finishing works, such as the proper curing of asphalt, have been delayed by continuous and heavy rains.

The economic loss attributed to the traffic mess in Metro Manila has been placed in a study of the Japan International Cooperation Agency at ₱5.4 billion daily by 2035 if no interventions are made. Here is Skyway-3 to help ease the congestion.

“We’re very excited to open Skyway-3 to the public,” Ang said. “We just have to wait for the weather to improve so we can make sure that the asphalt will cure properly. That and a few more finishing touches are all that’s needed, and then we can open, soon.”

Since COVID-19 restrictions were eased starting mid-May to June this year, San Miguel has been doubling its efforts to deliver major infrastructure projects with the least delays.

In mid-July, it delivered the last section of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx) to Rosario, La Union, officially opening its entire stretch to motorists.

Apart from Skyway-3, the company is also looking to deliver the northbound section of the Skyway extension — which provides additional lanes and connects SLEx to the Skyway near Susanna Heights and the Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway by December.

Road and rail networks are like the human body’s circulatory system carrying vital life fluids, pumping energy and sustaining growth. Seaports and airports are important nodes in the infrastructure of a nation.

San Miguel’s P740-billion Manila International Airport project in Bulacan, the largest single-item investment in local history, is set to break ground by yearend. It will generate over a million direct and indirect jobs and, once complete, create some 30 million tourism jobs.

Starting Nov. 2, tollways built by SMC will no longer handle cash toll transactions. These are STAR (Southern Tagalog Arterial Road), SLEx (South Luzon Expressway), the Skyway, NAIAx (NAIA Expressway), and TPLEx (Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway).

Vehicles using these expressways will be required to have Autosweep RFID (radio frequency identification) stickers in compliance with a Department of Transportation order. Stickers can be installed at the tollway plazas and other designated places.

Initial balance required for Autosweep RFID is P200. More details can be secured from autosweeprfid.com and at (02) 5-318-8655.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 15, 2020)

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