ANGELES CITY – A total of 364 attendees joined the virtual public hearing on the Subic-Clark Railway Project (SCRP) conducted via Zoom on September 9.
But no consensus has been reached.
A reliable source also said among the attendees who joined the five-and-a-half hour virtual public hearing, which started at 9 a,m. until 2:30 p.m., were affected local government units as well as representatives of different sectors.
However, the advocacy group Pinoy Gumising Ka Movement (PGKM) that has raised socio-economic issues and environmental concerns on the SCRP alignment did not attend the virtual hearing.
PGKM chair Ruperto Cruz said the virtual hearing could not possibly tackle all concerns over the project, given that certain stakeholders do not have the technical capability in the use of the Zoom app, like himself, or do not have the means such as laptops and cellphones, like farmers affected by the realignment.
Cruz also raised issue on the Zoom hearing itself, fearing “manipulation of discussion to favor the government position with oppositors easily cut off and blamed on technical glitches.”
“A public hearing in the true sense of the word is what is needed,” Cruz said, dismissing health protocols as reasons for the virtual hearing. “Why, if the PDP-Laban can be allowed to hold an assembly of over 400 people, why not a physical public hearing on the SCRP?”
For its part, the Department of Transportation has yet to release a statement on the conduct of the virtual public hearing held last Sept.9.
Cruz took to task Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade anew for his alleged failure to address the problems of this department as well as divulge the status of the Capillon project at the main gate of the Clark Freeport Zone.
Cruz said it was the Capillon project, approved at the time Tugade was Clark Development Corp. president, which sabotaged the proposed train station for Clark because its location is best suited for it.
Cruz said Tugade has yet to resolve problems besetting the Land Transportation Office like the drivers’ license mess and private motor vehicle inspection centers among others, traffic, public utility vehicles, etc.
The PGKM said as the pandemic rages, the DOTr suddenly realigned the SCRP without any public consultation.
“Now, the economic development of Porac, which is billed as the Makati of Pampanga, has been compromised as well as vast tracts of land destined for development in Pampanga and its surrounding areas,” Cruz said.
He noted that there would have been no problem had the SCRP just followed the alignment of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway.