Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has vowed to push for a Senate investigation into the two multi-million government infrastructure projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program.
De Lima underscored the mandate of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development which she chairs in initiating legislative inquiries into government policies and programs which impact on the general welfare of the people, especially the marginalized sector.
“Dapat maintindihan ng Malacañang yung mandato ng Committee ko, Committee on Social Justice. Alam ba nila kung ano yung Social Justice?” she asked in an ambush interview.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier lashed out at De Lima for her plan to conduct a Senate inquiry into the two projects which he claimed was intended for “political grandstanding purposes.”
According to De Lima, her committee wishes to look out for the disadvantaged and marginalized- which is the reason why she is calling for a Senate probe on infrastructure projects that will adversely affect the lives of many Filipinos from poor families.
In filing Senate Resolution No. 927 last Nov. 4, De Lima urged the appropriate Senate committee to look into the impending demolition of thousands of residents in 38 communities in Manila affected by two construction projects.
These projects include the construction of the PhP23-B North Luzon Expressway-South Luzon Expressway (NLEX-SLEX) Connector Road Project and the PhP171-billion North-South Commuter Railway Project.
These two construction projects will result in the massive demolition of houses in 103 barangays in Manila (Tondo, Blumentritt, Sampaloc and Sta. Mesa) composed mainly of homes and small businesses.
In a signed position paper submitted to De Lima, the Sampaloc People’s Alliance estimated that about 180,000 families stand to be displaced to give way for the construction of these BBB projects.
In addition, the Senator from Bicol pointed out that wrong displacement and relocation of these affected residents would further exacerbate economic and social problems.
“We must uphold social justice at all times. Government cannot just dismantle urban communities and dislocate thousands of families without a clear comprehensive plan of relocation based on genuine consultations with the affected communities as required by law,” De Lima remarked.
SRN 927’s foremost aim is to find acceptable solutions to the massive displacement of families and communities without unduly disrupting the projects. The ultimate goal is expressed at the proposed resolution itself, to pave the way for “innovative policy reforms and mechanisms that will bring about holistic and sustainable urban development.”
Sen. De Lima clarifies that she is not opposing the projects per se, as she is in fact supportive of concrete and comprehensive efforts that will address the sorry situation of worsening traffic and deteriorating transportation infrastructure in our urban centers, particularly Metro Manila. In fact, Sen. De Lima, a Bicolana, is the author of the first bill at the Senate during the current 17th Congress that seeks to rehabilitate and revitalize the Philippine National Railways. The bill, SBN 370, was filed as early as 4 July 2016.
Despite her continued unjust detention for trumped-up drug charges fabricated by the Duterte administration, borne out of the President’s personal vendetta against her, De Lima continues to file meaningful legislative measures aimed at improving the plight of her countrymen.