Senate bungles opportunity

We could have built by this time, a new supercity resembling the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome on the hills of Antipolo.

There is a complete contrast in the approach to attaining progress between the Philippines and European countries.
My trip to Europe in 1971, to attend a Comparative Local Government Course on “The Management of Municipal Finance” from 19 August to 14 October of that year, gave me the opportunity to observe how countries in Europe, expand national progress in highly developed and congested metropolitan areas to their distant virgin lands.
What I observed could also be done in the Philippines.
Let me give a very simple example: when the Dutch government put up a new town, they first built a government building for offices; put up facilities for health and economic activities; and finally constructed beautiful homes for their employees and office workers.

Within a short period, the Dutch government had established a new settlement with all the modernity of the moment, and with no need for cars and buses to go to work and earn a living.

This brings to my recollection the missed opportunity by our Senate of the Philippines, for not doing, what the Dutch government did, and “missed the golden opportunity for super greatness.” We could have built by this time a new supercity resembling “the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome” on the hills of Antipolo, along the green valley of Marikina.

Had the Philippine Senate adopted the proposal of Senator Risa Hontiveros to relocate the office of the Upper Chamber to Antipolo, instead of Fort Bonifacio in Taguig, we could have by now built a new resplendent legislative building with the iconic character of the US Capital Building in Washington D.C.; the Palace of Westminster in London; the Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest; and the Reichstag Building in Berlin.

We could have opened for economic expansion and development of vast virgin lands of the undeveloped areas of the province of Rizal.

In November 2017, two potential relocation sites were eyed to be the permanent home of the Senate — Antipolo City, Rizal province; or Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. The City of Antipolo, through its mayor, Honorable Casimero A, Ynares, expressed its willingness to donate to the Senate of the Philippines 25 hectares of land located in Marikina as a possible site for the new Senate complex.

Since Antipolo City is offering 25 hectares of land for free, there will be no land acquisition cost on the part of the Senate. Selecting Antipolo City shall, however, consider the cost of land development estimated at P4,000 per square meter on flat clear terrain.

Antipolo was eyeing a four-year timeline before the Senate can fully occupy the proposed Senate building, six months for the design and development phase, one year for the land development phase, and two-and-half years for the construction phase.

Only 20,000 square meters will be occupied by the iconic new globally competitive legislative building, with all the iconicity of the world’s best. The rest of the 205,000-square-meter could be utilized for all required facilities befitting modern communities, including new homes for Senate employees.

The choice of Taguig, instead of Antipolo, went through the democratic process. A great majority of the 1,714 Senate employees favored Taguig over Antipolo. Keen observers, however, were quick to comment, to whichever Senators Tito Sotto and Ping Lacson go, thereto, they all also go.

The next episode will cover the new Senate building. Senate President Zubiri is hopeful that the new Senate will be finished by 2024.

The new Taguig building will be called “Ang Bagong Senado” which, according to its project description, will have an “iconic, unique, sustainable and green design that would best represent the honor, dignity, and legacy of the institution.”

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