‘Safe’ as long as it isn’t made of marshmallow

By Alex P. Vidal

“It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; its the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time.”—David Allan Coe

THE many restrictions imposed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the “temporary” reopening of the much-vilified and defective P680-million (plus P200-million for the “repair”) Ungka flyover (UFO) in Pavia, Iloilo can be compared to a newly built but poorly constructed house turned over by the builder to the homeowner and his family for a short-term use.

The homeowner and his family can temporarily use the new house but are prohibited from using some of the interior amenities pending the final repair of other major areas inside.

Even if they own the house, other overweight family members have limited movements; they can’t stay together in the kitchen or extend extra time inside the bathroom.

The time to watch TV in the living room is limited; and they can’t park their cars in the garage.

It’s like telling them, the construction of the house has been finalized, but there are some finishing touches yet to be done inside. You can live there temporarily at your own risk.

If the house is still inhabitable, it’s better not to live there until after the complete redecoration and refurbishment.


Under the DPWH restrictions for the flyover’s “soft” opening this week, only the two inner lanes of the four-lane flyover would be open; access to the flyover would be restricted to rush hours, from five o’clock to nine o’clock in the morning and four o’clock to eight o’clock in the evening daily.

Barriers would block access to the flyover beyond the aforementioned hours.

Only four-wheeled vehicles, such as traditional jeepneys, modernized units, and private vehicles, would be permitted cross the flyover. Motorcycles, bicycles, and tricycles would not be allowed.

To ensure that only authorized vehicles used the flyover, an overhead “gantry” would be erected.

Based on the insistence and assurance of DPWH officer-in-charge Sanny Boy Oropel during the press conference on September 19, the Ungka flyover is safe for light vehicles only.

“We hope for the best. Our continuous monitoring provided us with the data,” he said as quoted by reports. “There has been no additional vertical movement since January after the contractor introduced jet grouting.”

We agree with Engr. Oropel that the controversial flyover is “safe” as long as it is not substandard and not made of marshmallow.


SECURITY FROM CYBERATTACK. At the 78th UN General Assembly in New York City on September 19, eleven senior leaders joined the United States led by U.S. Deputy Secretary Richard R. Verma and Ambassador at Large for Cyberspace and Digital Policy Nathaniel C. Fick in a discussion on how to better secure cyberspace and support recovery of partners that suffer a significant disruptive cyberattack.

Cyberspace and digital technologies offer tremendous opportunities for economic growth and development for all UN member states.  Cyberattacks carried out by criminals and nation states demonstrate the risk that cyber vulnerabilities can pose to global peace, security, and economic development, according to the US Department of State.

For more than two decades, added the State Department, UN member states have built consensus on a normative framework for responsible state behavior in cyberspace that includes the applicability of international law, non-binding peacetime norms of responsible state behavior, confidence building measures, and capacity building.

To advance collective action on those commitments, leaders focused on practical steps to implement the framework, provide support to partners responding to and recovering from significant cyber incidents, and help all countries realize the tremendous potential of a digitally connected future.

Deputy Secretary Verma emphasized the U.S. commitment to work with other countries to strengthen global cybersecurity during the event.

He also reiterated U.S. support for the creation of a new Program of Action at the United Nations as a flexible venue where UN member states can engage in practical discussions on how best to secure cyberspace for all.

This is a decisive decade, and we are all in it together.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)