By Samuel P. Medenilla, November 6 2018; Business World


Image Credit to Manila Bulletin

MALACAÑANG has assured it is ready to cooperate with a possible Senate probe into the anticipated mass displacement of residents from two of the administration’s flagship projects in Metro Manila under its “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.

Detained Sen. Leila M. de Lima recently filed Senate Resolution 927 seeking an investigation into the P23-billion North Luzon Expressway-South Luzon Expressway Connector Road Project and the P171-billion North-South Commuter Railway Project.

Both projects, she said, are expected to displace 180,000 families from 38 affected communities in the National Capital Region. 

Presidential Spokesman and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador S. Panelo said de Lima’s concerns were already addressed during the preliminary planning of the two projects. 

Nevertheless, he said, concerned Cabinet officials will still attend any forthcoming Senate hearing.   

“We expect our relevant heads [of departments] to attend the hearing, if and when they are called as resource persons, not only as a courtesy to a coequal branch of the government but also to inform the public that these projects are definitely in order,” Panelo said in a news statement issued on Sunday evening.  

Panelo questioned the timing and intention of de Lima in raising the issue with only a few months before the 2019 elections.   

He said the Palace hopes the Senate probe is not politically motivated and merely aimed to discredit the administration.  

“We only hope that this inquiry initiated by the lady senator is truly in aid of legislation and not for political grandstanding purposes only, as she has the habit of doing,” Panelo said.

“Election season has arrived and with the President’s ratings remaining high, the political opposition’s recourse is to score political brownie points by foisting demolition and relocation, both gut issues on the part of the urban poor, to attack the President,” he added.