ANGELES CITY – Shades of Singapore’s ex-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s historic political will is sweeping this city within the framework of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to be held here in January, and beyond.
Mow down the irrelevant posts, make idle lots productive, finish infrastructure works by December, zip lock the growth of informal population, get traffic flowing fine. Like Lee, now dubbed as the world’s icon for exemplary leaders, this city’s Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan has issued these orders with a strong hand against those used to a government culture of delays.
In his regular monthly press conference with local media, Pamintuan ordered city engineer Don Dizon to use bulldozers to topple posts of telecom firms which failed to comply with his removal deadline last Sept. 15.
The removal of the posts along the MacArthur Highway in the commercial and tourism district in Balibago was part of the overall blueprint to beautify this city in time for at least 1,200 delegates to attend the APEC summit to be held at Clark Freeport in January next year.
Unsightly telecom “spaghetti wires” and their posts had already been removed in downtown Sto. Rosario, where the National Historical Commission (NHC) is transforming the historic Pamintuan Mansion, where Emilio Aquinaldo marked the first anniversary of Philippine Independence in 1899, is being transformed into a museum expected to attract from 5,000 to 10,000 visitors monthly.
A green park called Paza Anghel is also being rushed in the area where the Sto. Rosario parish church is located.
“I have also told owners of vacant lots to make these lots productive, or we will be the ones to make these idle spaces meaningful,” said Pamintuan who, like Singapore’s Lee, is also a lawyer. Close to some P500 million of national and local funds are being used for various infrastructure projects, most of which have Nov. 30 as their deadline.
Dizon said no less than 3.3 kilometers of concrete roads with drainage systems have already been almost completed.
Pamintuan has also seen that trees were moved to other sites, in areas where they blocked road widening and drainage projects. Work has also been fast tracked on a new park along several kilometers of the old railways which were cleared of informal settlers and run through Barangays Recto, Lourdes East, Lourdes Sur, and Agapito del Rosario which used to be crime-infested.
At least two huge rotundas are also under construction near the Angeles University Foundation towards Magalang town, and at the Bayahinan Park at the main entry towards Clark Freeport. The rotunda at Clark would cost about P16 million which was from the funds of the Clark Development Corp., while the other, which is now up for bidding, would cost about P124 million, Pamintuan said.
This, amid a stricter traffic management policies that included prohibition of funeral processions on foot and parallel parking only on major routes. Those who plan to construct tall buildings have also been told to first submit for approval by the city government their plans to make sure that the operation of their buildings would not cause traffic congestion.
Pamintuan also boasted that the city government now operates largely from locally raised income. “We expect our local revenues to reach P700 million annually, and this makes for the ideal 70 percent local income and 30 percent allotment from the national government,” he noted.