Iloilo City fries on pork lard

There’s been a bonanza of infrastructure projects in Iloilo City which give the appearance of quickened growth and development.

The Benigno Aquino Jr. Ave. (better known as Diversion Road) is being widened with uneven surfaces. As this is being written, traffic jams are a daily occurrence just before the bridge crossing to Gen. Luna and Infante Sts. as work is implemented to add one lane to it. These projects have a total budget of P350 million. The Iloilo Esplanade, with a total length of 1.2 kilometers, was developed for P70 million. Across the river is Esplanade II, with a slightly smaller budget of P45 million.

The Elliptical Road which serves as a peripheral road that connects Leganes to Oton, passing through Pavia and San Miguel, was constructed at a cost of more than a billion pesos.

Many people are impressed at the slew of projects. Indeed, at no time in the history of Iloilo City has it witnessed a cascade of roads, bridges and other infrastructure in a short period of time. Credit is given to Senator Franklin Drilon, who allocated a huge portion of his pork barrel, and exerted his clout as then chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, to make this possible.

But little is being said about the cost efficiency and rationality of the projects. Nobody has challenged the pricing despite insinuations that these are grossly overpriced. There is also the issue of whether the expansion of the Diversion Road, and the bridge, are necessary in the first place. In the light of the pork barrel scam, I think the Ombudsman should investigate the issues about overpricing, and need, for the projects.

It’s hard to understand why the Diversion Road was expanded to eight lanes. It’s just a short stretch of road, although it’s become one of the busiest thoroughfares in Iloilo City. The road widening makes no sense.  At the end of the highway going to Molo is a four-lane bridge. The current configuration of six lanes makes it a formula for congestion by the time vehicles reach the foot of the bridge. The classic bottleneck problem arises.

Now that the highway is being widened to eight lanes, DPWH decided to add one lane to the bridge to make it six lanes. The first casualty of this project are commercial buildings on the southern bank of the river, including one where PAG-IBIG is housed. Moreover, the vehicles coming off this bridge will still head into congested roadways on General Luna and Infante Sts. It doesn’t make sense.

For me, the project is a big waste of money. It is also a source of big-time graft. The money allocated for this road widening could have been put to better use to build first-class roads in key sections of the city. Iloilo City isn’t just that burgeoning business district in Barangay San Rafael, Mandurriao. In fact, the neglect in other parts of the city, including the old downtown area, is causing economic blight in much of the city. An eight-lane 3-kilometer highway serves no good purpose. It’s only an excuse for more kickbacks to its patrons.

As the nation simmers in collective anger over the pork barrel scam involving Janet Lim Napoles, our people should also start looking at infrastructure projects like the ones we’ve seen in Iloilo City. These are huge sources of corruption. We should adopt a circumspect attitude when our public officials make a spectacle of ground-breaking for projects and ask: How much do they cost?

Ilonggos just don’t realize it. The city is being fried on its own lard.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

One Response to Iloilo City fries on pork lard

  1. petmelliza says:

    here is one case where form is mistaken for substance. we are mesmerized by the glitz of the infras but nary realize the dire consequences as our mangroves are destroyed in the process while the natural waterway gets constricted, as happening now with Iloilo River and its mangroves.


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