Osmeña slams proposed realignment of BRT funds
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña slammed the plans of Marikina Rep. Bayani Fernando to realign over US$100 million intended for the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and implement a similar project in Metro Manila.
“That’s what I call alimangos (crabs). You go up, they pull you down. There’s no law against that but to me, I lost my respect for people like that. Baga sila ug nawong. Atong proyekto, kita’y nag apply (They are shameless. That’s our project, we applied for it),” said Osmeña.
The mayor revealed that as the fate of the BRT continues to hang by a thread, his worries are also mounting.
“I’m worried about everything. My job is to make agwanta (endure it). We have to fight our way through all of that. That’s the way it is. It is possible to transfer funds from LGU to LGU (local government unit) but that’s really hard to do,” Osmeña said.
Fernando reportedly filed a proposal before the House of Representatives to divert money for the Cebu BRT to fund a similar one in Metro Manila, which is now being reviewed by the committee on transportation.
In addition, the committee on transportation learned last June 1 that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) wanted not only the Cebu BRT, but also two more BRT projects in Metro Manila shelved , in favor of a railway system.
The two BRT projects in Metro Manila are the 12.3-km Line 1 from the Quezon Memorial Circle to Manila City Hall via the Elliptical Road, Quezon Avenue and España Boulevard estimated to cost P4.8 billion; and Line 2 or the Edsa-BRT to cost P37.8 billion.
Lawmakers noted that these disclosures were contrary to what the committee was told when the BRT system was being pushed and awaiting approval from the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).
DOTr is the implementing agency of both the Cebu and Metro Manila BRT.
Socioeconomic planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, in an earlier interview, said that the Neda Investment Coordination Committee (ICC), which approves the country’s capital projects, gave DOTr until June 30 to offer a “short-term alternative” and “strong evidence against the Cebu BRT” if they want it scrapped.
Pernia also said the Neda-ICC is thinking about turning over the responsibility of implementing the Cebu BRT project to the Cebu City Government if the DOTr is still hesitant to proceed with the project, despite being ordered to procure its Technical Service Consultant (TSC) last April 25.
But for Osmeña, the DOTr may not be able to comply with the requirements set by the Neda-ICC.
“They have nothing to offer. This one is already a studied project with feasibility study and funding approved. They have nothing. That’s why they cannot come up with anything. Of course, (they can come up with strong evidence against it) but to come up with a counter offer? That’s impossible,” Osmeña added.
The Neda-ICC is composed of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III as its chairperson, Pernia as its co-chairperson, and the Secretaries of Agriculture, Budget and Management, Trade and Industry, and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor as its members. /Inquirer.net
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