Everything you've wanted to know about RP politics, but were afraid to ask.

Tong Payumo on the SCTEX issue vs Sen. Noynoy Aquino

Posted by akosistella on January 25, 2010

The SCTEX and Hacienda Luisita
By Felicito C. Payumo
December 2, 2009

There are three questions being asked on the issue of the Subic-Clark- Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) passing through the Hacienda Luisita.

The first is about the price paid for the right of way (ROW) to the owners of Hacienda Luisita by the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA). It is the BCDA, not Noynoy Aquino, that should explain why it paid the price of P100 per square meter. Brigadier General (Ret.) Roberto Gervacio of BCDA has already explained that their mode of acquisition is to negotiate with landowners at below the appraised value set by the DBP. He is right. Landowners, big and small, will rebel if they are paid the zonal value of P6 to P12 per square meter.

The second is why the expressway was made to pass through the sugar lands of Hacienda Luisita. It was not the sugar lands but the Luisita Industrial Estate where several Japanese companies have invested that moved the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) to approve the alignment up to La Paz, Tarlac. It was these companies that asked that they be given an efficient access from their factories to the Subic Port and Clark Airport. After all, the primary purpose of infrastructure facilities is to spur economic development. The SCTEX aims to foster the Subic-Clark Alliance by creating a synergy between the Subic Port and the Clark airport. It is also expected to spur development along the SCTEX corridor from Hermosa and Dinalupihan in Bataan, Florida-Blanca and Porac in Pampanga, and Luisita and La Paz in Tarlac.

While most of our roads have a north-south orientation, the SCTEX is a missionary route that would traverse the foothills and plains of Central Luzon from west to east. It is the first phase of the “Rainbow Highway”, conceived in the 1995 Master Plan for Central Luzon that would connect the Pacific Ocean at Dingalan Bay and South China Sea at Subic Bay. President Arroyo would recall that she was instrumental in securing the funding for this Master Plan from JICA when she was still Undersecretary of the DTI. This was in response to the House Resolution for the development of West Central Luzon but which was expanded to include the whole of Central Luzon after it was hit by a double whammy of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption and withdrawal of the US Military Bases.

Considerations for higher traffic volume, however, would now cause the earlier construction of the northward La Paz-Rosario, La Union extension by a consortium of Filipino contractors, and a spur that will connect La Paz to Maharlika Road at Nueva Ecija. The extension to Rosario would benefit the tourism industry of Baguio and traders of Pangasinan and Ilocos Region while the connection to the Maharlika Road would benefit the Banaue tourism industry and agriculture of Cagayan Valley.

And third, why didn’t the Cojuancos pay for the construction of the exit at Hacienda Luisita? For the same reason that the Gotianums and the Ayalas were not made to pay for the SLEX exit at Alabang, and the Yulos for the exit at Canlubang because they were integral components of the SLEX, just as the various exits along NLEX and SCTEX were. If private developers would want to propose additional exits to those in Dinalupihan, Florida Blanca, Porac, Clark, Luisita and La Paz along SCTEX, they would have to pay for the costs, subject to the approval of the design by BCDA or the responsible Government agency, such as what Susana Heights did at SLEX.

To give credit where it is due, it is important to point out that while the construction of the SCTEX was completed during the term of President Arroyo, and the Master Plan for Central Luzon was done by Nippon Koei in 1995 during the term of President Ramos, the funding for the Subic Container Port along with others such as the PHIVIDEC container port, CAMANAVA flood control project, Iloilo Airport, a Mindanao circumferential road, and the SCTEX was secured by President Estrada during an official visit to Tokyo from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). I recall that our official delegation was requested not to publicize the fact that the Philippines obtained close to 50 per cent of the so called Obuchi Fund. How did the Philippines manage to do that? Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Domingo Siazon loves to recall that when his Japanese counterpart, then Foreign Affairs Minister Obuchi, visited Manila, President Estrada received him at his residence at Polk Street. President Estrada was apologetic that he could not receive him at Malacanang Palace because it was a weekend, not knowing that a Japanese considers it a special honor to be received by the host at his home. Add the fact that Minister Obuchi was still a Cabinet Minister then while Estrada was already President caused Minister Obuchi to be doubly grateful. The rest was history- Minister Obuchi became Prime Minister of Japan, and among the first that he received for an official visit was President Estrada. And the Philippines received a disproportionate share of the Obuchi Fund to boot!

* Felicito C. Payumo was three-term Representative of the First District of Bataan, Author of the House Resolution providing for the Central Luzon Master Plan, and former Chair and Administrator, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. (This email has been verified as having come from Mr. Payumo, which was sent to members of the Former Senior Government Officials group. It has since been reposted on Facebook by FSGO members.)


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