Intramuros to become pedestrian-friendly, underground cabling stalled

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(Photo by Pamela Ann Bangayan) Picturesque Manila Cathedral. The view of Manila Cathedral after the overhead cables in front of those were decluttered.
Inset: (Photo courtesy of Intramuros Administration) Inset photo shows utility cables being decluttered.

By Pamela Ann C. Bangayan

Almost a year after Intramuros Administration (IA) kicked-off its underground cabling project in Plaza Roma, the next phase is to bury all utility cables in Calle Aduana underground, as well as other tourist spots inside the historic district of Manila, with the hope to make the walled city more picturesque.

IA Architect Ramil Tibayan said that the said project is actually part of the 1991 Urban Development plan of the administration. However, it was only last year that underground cabling embarked and it was Manila Cathedral that was prioritized in line with the preparation for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation 2015 in the country.

When started, the end-goal of IA, as an attached agency of Department of Tourism (DOT), is to attract more tourists in visiting Intramuros and to make them further appreciate the historic place by removing the eye soring overhead cables. Moreover, the administration eyes to make the district pedestrian and bicycle-friendly, hence, develop a less-polluted Intramuros.

Although not yet started the rehabilitation of A. Soriano Avenue or Calle Aduana is already being handled by Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, another agency under DOT, and is estimated to consume one or two years of construction.

On the other hand, Tibayan said in an interview with The Millennials’ Guild that this is not a kind of project where we can expect immediate results for this is a big task that requires a huge budget and a lot of factors are stalling the project, one of those is the latter.

“There may be a problem on the procurement process. Hindi ko talaga masabi kung ano ba yung nakakapag stall sa project na ito. Mahirap pagplanuhan dahil maraming involve. Hindi lang naman ito kuryente kundi pati ang drainage, telephone companies, and water supply since we are also planning to renew the streetscapes,” Tibayan said when asked about what he thinks are the factors stalling the project.

Another reason, according to an Inquirer interview with IA Chief Marco Antonio Luisito Sardillo III, is that the project is a “nightmare” since Intramuros already has existing development compared to the case of Bonifacio Global City which started “completely blank.”

Aside from Plaza Roma and Calle Aduana, other priority areas for development include Magallanes Drive, General Luna, Padre Burgos and other main thoroughfares of Intramuros.

Ballot printing for barangay elections pushed despite issues of postponement

by Pamela Ann Bangayan

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Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista orders printing of ballots
(Photo from Philnews.ph)

      Commission on Elections (Comelec), through the National Printing Office (NPO), started on August 21 the printing of ballots for the upcoming barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections although the legislative body proposed to postpone it.

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said in an interview with GMA News that for as long as there is no law yet postponing the said elections, they are left with no choice but to start printing the ballots, especially that it is only 68 days away.

“The long and short of it is we must follow the law, whatever it may be. Right now, the law says we must have an election on October 31. As long as there is no law that postpones it, we have no choice but to implement the law,” Bautista said.

Comelec and NPO eyes to finish the printing of 85 million ballots on October 21, 57 million of which is for barangay elections while the remaining 28 million is for SK elections that were postponed in 2013. However, due to the issue of deferment, NPO was instructed not to “go full swing” on printing to prevent millions of ballots being tossed in the bin.Postponement vexes SK candidates

SK candidates worry that the elections will face yet another postponement and their voice in politics be permanently removed.

“Doubting the capabilities of the youth in handling responsibilities like this is tantamount to doubting Jose Rizal’s famous quote that the youth is the hope of the future. Baka sa susunod eh, alisan na nila kami ng boses sa pulitika,” Patricia Anievas, an SK candidate of Barangay 773 in Manila, said.

Anievas added that this election will serve as the training ground of the youth in nation building and in developing patriotism.

SK elections were first postponed in 2013 when the Aquino administration signed into law Republic Act 10632 due to the allegations of lost and mismanaged funds.

Bills filed in the congress and another by Senator Alan Peter Cayetano seek to move both elections in October 2018.

Cayetano said the upcoming elections may affect the anti-drug campaign of the current administration for people might link it with politics.

Kapag may captain o mayor na napangalanan [sa drugs], [baka] sabihin nila politically motivated yan,” Cayetano told GMA News Online when he filed the bill on August 17.

However, as of press time, there’s still no official statement and law postponing the said elections.