BAGUIO CITY – The proposal of former Pangasinan 5th district Rep. Mark Cojuangco to realign the exit of the 88.4-kilometer Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) at least 7 kilometers away from its original exit in Saytan, Rosario, La Union will cost the government an additional subsidy of P12.5 billion or P500 million for a period of 25 years, Benguet Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan said here Wednesday.
Cosalan, who is the chairman of the House committee on public works,, appeared before the en banc session of the Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR for the first quarter and told the 55-member regional policy-making body that the government will be heavily burdened in terms of the additional subsidy once it will follow the proposal of Cojuangco to realign the TPLEX exit away from the original plan.
Under the contract of the government and the Philippine Development Investment Corporation (PDIC), a consortium of San Miguel Corporation and DMCI, the contractor of the TPLEX, the government is mandated to pay the consortium an annual subsidy of P4.7 billion to complete the P18.8 billion 8-phased highway project.
“We have to be assertive of what we know would be beneficial for our local residents and visitors, especially the vegetable farmers, who will be using the TPLEX daily once it will be operational by the end of this year,” Cosalan stressed.
During a recent meeting with San Miguel president Ramon S. Ang, Rep. Cosalan disclosed it seems that President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III and the consortium are not amenable to Cojuangco’s proposal to realign the exit at least 7 kilometers away from the original exit because of the huge subsidy that will be shelled out by the government.
The RDC-CAR, the Benguet, Abra and Mountain Province provincial boards and the La Trinidad municipal council initially passed separate resolutions supporting the implementation by the Department of Public works and Highways (DPWH) of the original plan of the TPLEX where its exit will be right at the mouth of Kennon road and Marcos highway at Saytan, Rosario, La Union.
Earlier, the infrastructure committee of the RDC Region I also endorsed the implementation of the original plan of the new highway in order to boost the tourism arrivals not only in the Cordillera but also in the Ilocos Region.
Cosalan explained the added 7 kilometers from the original exit to the proposed exit would significantly translate to delays in the daily transport of highland vegetables from the local markets to the high-end markets and wet markets in Metro Manila and the lowlands.
Further, he added the additional travel time of at least 10 minutes as a result of the proposed realignment would also mean a lot in the depreciation of the motor vehicles of businessmen, motorists and travellers alike.
Cosalan revealed vegetable traders transport a total of 1.6 million kilos of vegetables from the trading post in La Trinidad to the different markets in Metro Manila and the lowlands.
He called o Cordillerans to be united in voicing out their support to the Aquino administration’s plan to complete the highway up to its original exit so that the Cordillera and ILocos regions will be reaping the fruits of increased tourist arrivals in the future due to significantly reduced travel time. By Dexter A. See