By Alex P. Vidal
“One sees qualities at a distance and defects at close range.”— Victor Hugo
DEPARTMENT of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) OIC regional director Sonny Boy Oropel appeared to be unhappy with the criticism they received from the media and the public after he announced the temporary or “soft” opening of the scandal-ridden and defective P680-million (plus P200 million for “repair”) Ungka flyover (UFO) in Pavia, Iloilo starting September 21.
If they did not open the controversial flyover, they got flak, he moaned. And now that they decided to open it temporarily, they still got negative feedback.
“I can’t understand,” he averred in vernacular.
The main issue here was not whether the flyover would be opened to motorists.
It is the defective project that is problematic.
After being initially opened to traffic on Sept. 5, 2022, the flyover, which straddles Jaro district and Brgy. Ungka 2 in Pavia, was closed two weeks later due to the vertical displacement of the structure.
And the taxpayers have all the right to revolt. Is this hard to understand?
RP HEARD AGAIN BUT RUSSIAN STOLE THE SHOW. The Philippines, represented by Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique A. Manalo, was finally given the opportunity to be heard in the morning session of the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 23.
Aside from the Philippines, other speakers came from the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Cabo Verde, Somalia, Laos, Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, Azerbaijan, Russia, Indonesia, Mexico, New Zealand, Armenia, Iceland, Egypt.
They were overshadowed by Russian Foreign Sergey Lavrov, who claimed power was slipping through the hands of the old order, dominated by Washington, which has long rejected the principle of equality.
Lavrov told delegates: “Americans and Europeans “make all sorts of promises…and then just don’t fulfill them.”
Quoting President Vladimir Putin, he said the West was “truly an empire of lies” which even during the battle against Nazism in World War Two, had plotted an offensive against their Soviet allies.
Manalo said in his speech the UN spirits calls upon all to decisively respond to existential threats such as global warming, degrading ecosystem, diseases, and food security.
He added: “We must configure our work to the realities of our time, placing people and communities at the heart of our agenda, refocusing consensus through differences and recognizing the agency of many voices, not only the powerful few, in shaping our shared future.”
Manalo emphasized that The Philippines advocates for the peaceful settlement of disputes, in accordance with international law, adding: “This has always been our position with respect to the disputes in the West Philippine Sea, inasmuch as we are prepared to defend our sovereignty, sovereign rights and territorial integrity.”
Humanity remains in danger from too many destructive and disruptive weapons in existence, he continued. With thousands of nuclear warheads still present and the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty unrealized, heightened arms races and new ways of warfare – including in the cyber and space domains — have transformed the strategic landscape in the twenty-first century.
“The rule of law must reign all the more,” he stressed. Advocating for the peaceful uses of outer space and greater responsibility among States to reduce space threats, he also stressed that new technology cannot be weaponized or misused in any way that subverts democracy and freedom, challenges international humanitarian law, exploits the vulnerable and violate human rights.
Further, he called for industrialized countries to abide by their obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The continued reform of the UN Development System is key to ensuring that the Organization delivers transformative development outcomes. “Solidarity sets the ground for international cooperation as we reinforce the global health-security system, following the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he emphasized, reiterating calls for equity in the provision of vaccines.
“We must never again witness a global emergency of such scale wherein those in most need will be provided for last,” he added.
The Philippines will continue to advocate for the human rights of vulnerable groups, especially women, children, Indigenous Peoples, migrants, persons with disabilities, refugees, and older persons, he declared. (With reports from UN News)
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo. —Ed)