Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) would like to respond to the issues raised by Mr. Daxim L. Lucas on two articles he wrote regarding the condition of the roads (Biz Buzz 12/29/17, “Pointing Fingers” and 01/03/18, “Not pointing fingers but…”) at the reclamation area in Pasay and Paranaque namely President Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard (PDMB), Asean and Diokno Avenues.

These three major roads are under the jurisdiction, control and administration of the PRA by virtue of the ‘Boulevard 2000 Integrated Framework Plan’ under Administrative Order nos. 176 and 223 (1995) of then President Fidel V. Ramos. PRA has been regularly maintaining the said roads using its corporate funds as a ‘self-liquidating’ government corporation and not through budgetary allotment from Congress or the DBM. As correctly pointed out by Mr. Lucas, there has been a dramatic increase in construction activities within the reclamation area for the past two years which brought about the heavy wear and tear on the roads due to the passage of heavy trucks and construction equipment. These roads were not designed for the type of ‘overload’ that they have experienced recently. For the information of the public, PRA implemented repair works on PDMB and Diokno Boulevards in the first and third quarters of 2017. But due to the combination of incessant rains and 24/7 passage of heavy vehicles, the road distresses have outpaced the durability of the repair works done.

With respect to the fees being collected by PRA from construction vehicle operators, we would like to inform the public and Mr. Lucas that the ‘Road Users’ fees being charged on heavy vehicles and equipment cover those that pass through Asean Avenue only where there had been a marked increase in construction works. The fees range from P100 to P400 depending on the size of the heavy vehicle. All collections are fully accounted for and booked as miscellaneous income by the PRA subject to audit by the Commission on Audit (COA). Being part of PRA’s corporate funds, such fees have been utilized by our agency to finance the repair works done in the past years. These road repair expenses are likewise audited by COA and can be checked in the PRA website. We therefore take exception to the insinuation that such collection of fees is an extortion scheme. Mr. Lucas needs to understand that government processes are not as quick as the private sector particularly in procurement of goods and services. To emphasize, it is just that the rate of wear and tear is faster than the lasting effects of asphalt patching and paving that our agency has done in the past months. And, as a government corporation, PRA is not exempt from following RA 9184 or the Procurement Law which hampers any efforts at immediate or quick responses as all materials, services and labor necessary for repairs have to undergo public bidding.

Fully concerned, however, of the risks to motorists of the deteriorating state of the roads, we had to do some proactive actions. The PRA exerted coordinative efforts with the locators in the area including the Wenceslao group (which affirms that there is no finger pointing as the articles have insinuated) for whatever interim assistance they can provide given that such entities can mobilize faster without public bidding constraints while the PRA undergoes its procurement processes. The PRA has likewise sounded out the DPWH through the Office of the President for any immediate assistance it can provide on account of its regular activities of road repairs and maintenance. For the record, PRA is ready to quickly respond to such road maintenance needs but a major constraint is the length of time it takes to actually implement repair works as we follow the rules of the Procurement Law.

On the issue of the offer of the Aseana Business Park Estates Association (ABPEA) and Entertainment City Estates Management Inc. (ECEMI) to take over control and maintenance of the roads, we would like to clarify that as early as 2015, the PRA and the said associations had been meeting and exerting efforts to finalize an agreement for this to happen. The PRA did not accede to the original proposal of ABPEA due to its onerous conditions. It was the said associations (initially ABPEA) that first proposed to PRA to take-over control and jurisdiction of all the roads and common areas within the reclamation area. The following stipulations as formulated by ABPEA in their initial proposal were deemed unacceptable to the PRA to wit: (i) ABPEA and ECEMI will have full control of the roadways including all incomes to be derived therefrom,  but PRA will still be liable for damages to third parties arising from their acts within the vicinity of the said roads; (ii)PRA shall reimburse ABPEA and ECEMI for any and all improvements made or introduced by them on said roadways upon termination of the MoA; (iii)The said associations wanted a fifty (50) year period of the MoA which PRA deemed tantamount to a disposition already of the said roads; (iv) Any and all taxes, fees and charges on the said roadways levied, assessed and imposed by the City or National Government shall still be for the sole account of PRA; and (v) ABPEA and ECEMI can assign, encumber or sell their respective rights, obligations, title or interest in their respective areas in favor of a third person or entity after written notice to PRA. Due to their onerous nature, PRA necessarily had to submit a counter proposal where the interests of the government will be protected. To date, PRA has yet to receive the respective comments of the associations on the PRA Board approved version of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) which has been pending with the said associations since May of 2016.

Instead of resorting to finger pointing, PRA is exerting all efforts at addressing the need to improve the road conditions in Entertainment City even with the constraints we have to work with and despite the “ball NOT being on our court.”