Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 Project (File photo)

MANILA – While acknowledging that the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 (MMSS-3) Project broke ground during the previous administration, a Palace official on Sunday said it was the political will of the Duterte administration that is pushing the project into completion despite a prevailing pandemic.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said the Duterte administration deserved credit for turning the dream of faster and easier travel into a reality.

“Kaya lang nagawa ‘yan dahil sa tinatawag na political will, determinasyon, pati hard work ng ‘Build, Build, Build’ team at saka ng buong administrasyong Duterte (The only reason it was realized is because of political will, determination and hard work of the ‘Build, Build, Build’ team and the whole Duterte administration),” he said in his commentary show Counterpoint aired on state-run PTV-4.

Panelo emphasized that right-of-way reforms done under Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary (DPWH) Mark Villar were crucial in the project’s completion.

"Yung Skyway Stage 3, hindi ‘yun nakumpleto using its original alignment na inaprubahan nung 2014 kasi nga may mga problema sa right-of-way. Kaya medyo binago, ni-realign diyan sa may San Juan River. At ito’y napagkasunduan nila nung 2018, Oktubre (Skyway Stage 3 wasn’t completed using its original alignment approved in 2014 because there are problems acquiring the right-of-way. That’s why it was slightly changed, they had to realign to utilize the San Juan River. And this was agreed upon in 2018),” he said.

The DPWH had to relocate 47 National Grid Corporation poles and 1,312 Manila Electric Company poles to realize the project.

Prior to 2017, only 8.64 percent of the right-of-way needed for the entire alignment had been acquired.

“May mga nagsasabi e kay PNoy naman ‘yan ah. Nagsimula nga dun, pero ang problema nga, hindi nga mag-take off kasi 8.64 percent lamang yung dapat mong lalagyan… so how can you construct? ‘Yun ang ginawa ng paraan ni Secretary Mark Villar (There are some saying that it is the project of President Benigno Aquino III. It started during his term, but the problem is it couldn’t take off because site possession for the alignment was only at 8.64 percent..so how can you construct? That’s what Secretary Mark Villar had to solve),” he added.

The alignment of Skyway Stage 3 was realigned to follow the San Juan River in October 2018 since the original alignment was not feasible.

The MMSS-3 Project, which is divided into five sections during its construction, is an elevated 18.83-kilometer expressway from Buendia, Makati City to the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) in Balintawak, Quezon City.

The expressway project connects the NLEX and the South Luzon Expressway.

It is also expected to decongest traffic in Metro Manila’s major thoroughfares by as much as 55,000 vehicles daily and reduce travel time from Buendia to Balintawak from two hours to approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

Sara for president

In stressing the need to continue accomplishments during the current administration, Panelo floated anew the possible daughter-and-father tandem of Sara Duterte and President Duterte in the 2022 national elections.

“Kaya nga gusto natin ‘tong [Davao City] Mayor Sara na maging presidente kasi and political will talaga napakahalaga. Meron siya nun e (That’s why we want Mayor Sara to be the next president because political will is very important. She has it),” he said.

Panelo cited how Mayor Sara in April last year banned her own father from traveling to his hometown to visit his partner Honeylet Avaceña and youngest daughter Kitty due to the strict lockdowns.

“Biro mo, maglalanding yung ama ni Mayor Sara dahil birthday ng asawa at bibisitahin ang anak, hindi pinayagan kasi ‘May lockdown ako dito, Papa. Hindi puwede (To think her father had plans to land in his hometown because it was the birthday of his wife and he wanted to visit his daughter, but he was prohibited because ‘There’s a lockdown here, Papa. You can’t come,” he added. (PNA)