His Excellency's parting gifts
Used to long goodbyes
President B. S. Aquino is no stranger to long goodbyes. A happy childhood in Times Street, exciting but vicariously fearful times in Boston, the tumultuous years of Mum's reign, that stint in the House of Representatives and the camaraderie at the famous Jesuit Law School, rekindled from time to time in Consulado. Leaving Bahay Pangarap (House of Dreams) by the riverside Palace of Malacanang is no different. There's the choosing of memorabilia, to throw, give away and take home. Then there's the placement of loyal staff who would either go their separate way, follow him, or choose to wait on the new master of the Palace.
Presents for the future
But unlike his previous departures, he leaves a lot of parting gifts, and consequences of his decisions, many of which we will tackle on another occasion by a laundry list for whoever is the King of the Palace. Whatever his record of service to the Nation is and the millions of brick bats we in the Media have thrown at him, we will, for the last time, give him unsolicited advice in order to ensure that the gifts of infrastructure that he leaves us behind are gifts that we will appreciate in the many administrations to come.
- Expedite the RROW (road right of way) acquisition of the Segment 2 of Skyway Stage 3. As both Skyway contractors EEI and DMCI speed along the other 3 main segments of the Skyway, there isn't much going on at the Plaza Dilao-PUP-G. Araneta segment crossing the Pasig River. This is the crucial common alignment of both the Skyway and the NLEx Metro-link connector. Without this, both elevated expressways will be as useless as a forest of concrete columns.
- Expedite the Swiss Challenge to the NLEx Metro link connector.
- Expedite the RROW acquisition OR change the alignment of the NAIA Skyway to adjust to the presence of the newly built Philippine Air Force Museum. As it stands, the elevated NAIA Skyway link to Skyway Stage 1, the oldest section, is blocked.
- Expedite the RROW acquisition of CALAx (Cavite Laguna Expressway). Metro Pacific is raring to go as we feel that this is one of the most significant traffic-busting and growth-inducing expressways ever to be built.
- Expedite the RROW acquisition of NLEx Harbor Link Segment 10. This is part of the NLEx Metro link expressway that will connect NLEx to the common alignment of Skyway Stage 3. This will solve the heavy truck traffic on R-10, C-3 and A. Bonifacio heading for the Port of Manila
- Expedite the RROW acquisition of NLEx Segment 8.2, connecting Mindanao Avenue to the Luzon Ave., Commonwealth Ave. flyover and C-5 Katipunan. This should have been a priority long ago as this connection makes C-5 the effective alternate ring road of the Metro, thereby relieving EDSA.
- Expedite the RROW acquisition and clearing of the CAVITEx-C-5 connecting expressway. This vital link will relieve much of SLEx and SLEx service road traffic and connect the Manila Bay coastal roads to C-5. The route entails going through some private subdivisions and with the new Expropriation Act pending in the Legislature, we hope things move faster.
- Expedite the RROW acquisition negotiations for the Pasig City side of the Lawton Bridge crossing the Pasig River from BGC in Taguig. If the planned route entails the displacement of many Pasig Capitolyo villagers, an alternate elevated highway route over public roads should be considered.
- Expedite traffic rerouting plans for bypassing the construction of the Buendia-Paseo de Roxas, Makati Ave. underpass complex.
- Expedite the traffic rerouting plans for building the EDSA Roosevelt-Congressional-North Ave.-West Ave. flyover complex.
- Expedite the traffic rerouting plans for the DPWH's EDSA Skyway from Malibay to Harrison.
- Expedite the choice of route for Segment 4 of TPLEx to terminate north of Rosario town to segregate traffic leading to Baguio via Marcos Highway from impeding other northbound traffic after exiting TPLEx Rosario toll barrier.
- Expedite the bidding for the redevelopment of Balagtas-Plaridel bypass to San Rafael highway into a toll expressway.
- Expedite the bidding for the CLEx (Central Luzon Expressway) from SCTEx La Paz to Cabanatuan City.
- Expedite the rehashing of the LLDEx (Laguna Lake Dike Expressway) to avoid flooding by the proposed man-made islands and include expressway links to SLEx and CALAx in order to increase motorist access to justify the expense of an elevated lakeshore expressway.
- Expedite the implementation of C-6 or the Metro Manila Expressway from Bicutan to Batasan and Philippine Arena, including the C-5-Skyway-C-6 link.
- Expedite the implementation of the NLEEx or the North Luzon East Expressway passing through Commonwealth and the La Mesa Dam Parkway to Balagtas, Bulacan.
- Expedite the project implementation of the JICA funded (NSCR) North-South Commuter Railway passing from Tutuban to Malolos.
- Expedite the integration of the BCDA's Clark link railway between NSCR Malolos and Clark airport.
- Expedite TRB implementation for the financial component (toll rate adjustment) for NLEx widening from Sta. Rita to Sta. Inez, SLEx widening from Sta. Rosa to Calamba, the just completed STAR Tollway widening, the SLEx extension to TR (Toll Road) 4 from Ayala toll barrier to Lucena City, extension of CAVITEx to link with CALAx and overdue adjustment of Skyway toll fees.
- Expedite TRB requirement of ETC (electronic toll collection) interoperability between all kinds of electronic toll collection systems (DSRC, RFID, Tap card) and the continuance of E-PASS on the South Tollways.
- Expedite TRB decision on converting the Skyway elevated toll barrier in Alabang to North Bound toll collection only as all South bound traffic will revert to coupon free pass through in order to alleviate morning rush hour traffic congestion.
- Expedite implementation of LRT 1 extension.
- Expedite implementation of LRT 6 to Dasmarinas, Cavite.
- Expedite implementation of LRT 7 from QC to Batasan.
- Expedite implementation of LRT 4 from Ortigas Ave to Taytay Rizal.
A toast to the future
As a keen driver, like his favored presidential candidate, he would surely enjoy cruising through all these new roads when he turns Citizen Pnoy. He now faces a new future, a future that he has embellished with his successes and his mistakes. Nevermind the accolades; they make for good trading puns when gathering with his college buddies at their favorite watering hole. He knows that he will have to face the music for what his detractors hold him responsible for, but he rests in the assurance of his good intentions. He will now live in this new Republic, hopefully thankful for the chance of having served the nation the way his Mum and Pop did, and like them, gave it all he had.