Rough Cuts | Endangering the Mindanao Railway System project

When some people in government see opportunity to tunnel a gold mine in certain big ticket projects, they start creating intrigues and pushing each other to gain vantage position to the perceived portal of the mine shaft.

And this is happening despite the very strong warning by President Rodrigo Duterte to the officials in various departments of government that he will not tolerate corruption. And of all agencies the intrigues are sown by and among executives of the Department of Transportation on a very important infrastructure project – Phase 1 of the Mindanao Railway System that covers a distance of 103 kilometers connecting the cities of Tagum, Davao and Digos in Southern Mindanao that has a budget of P36 billion.
According to reports emanating from Manila, Assistant Transport Secretary Mark Tolentino has called a press conference where he alleged that some officials of the DOTr are “derailing” the Mindanao Railway Project.
Tagging these officials as belonging to the “Yellow Group” he said that they are deliberately delaying the implementation of the Phase 1 of the project because they (the “Yellows”) are pushing for a loan from China despite the availability of the P36 billion in government money for the project’s Phase 1.
Tolentino also claimed that he was barred from talking about the progress of the project (the 1,500- kilometer Mindanao Railway System).
And come now Tolentino’s own boss, Transport Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan, apparently the guy who felt insinuated as the “Yellow” man, denying the Asec’s allegation he was prevented from holding a press conference. Batan said Tolentino was just requested to postpone his press briefing until after the meeting of Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade and Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua. As to the loan from China, according to Batan, they are still considering the idea.
But the intrigues began to heat up when DOTr’s Communication Officer Goddes Libiran scored Tolentinos’s “arrogance” when the latter supposedly said he is only “accountable to the President” and that he has the “blessing” of the members of the first family.
According to the report, Biliran further blasted the Assistant Secretary as having tagged Batan as a “Yellow” official to cover for his “lack of experience and background in the railways sector.”
It is this alleged name dropping of Tolentino that got the goat out of Presidential son-in-law lawyer Mans Carpio, slamming the Asec as the “liar Tolentino.”
Well, if this interoffice squabble at the DOTr will not be arrested the soonest possible time it is very likely that the Phase 1 of, or even the entire Mindanao Railway System project, will be adversely affected. Worst, it could even result to the scrapping of the project.
Imagine one official even a rung lower in position calling his boss and some other executives as deliberately delaying the project just to make sure that it be funded by borrowed money from China instead of the money from the Philippine government?
Imagine too that this official has to establish color delineation to distinguish the supposed political affiliation of the others who he has charged as the ones deliberately delaying the all too important project right in the President’s own backyard?
Indeed it is hard to fathom what the real intention of Assistant Secretary Tolentino in going directly to the media and air his suspicion that some “yellow officials” are sabotaging the project. He could have requested the Secretary of the Department for a hard ball meeting between him and those who he believes in the works of derailing the project, and with the Secretary himself.
The issue could have been easily settled among themselves and a decision whether to borrow from China or used Philippine government money to implement the first phase of the project could have been arrived at.
By going directly to the media, in the process coming out to the public of his personal perception, the Assistant Secretary is showing his lack of professionalism; his wanting in being a team player. And if indeed he really said that he is only “accountable to the President” and he has the “blessing” of the members of the first family, then he is “arrogant” a public official in many ways.
We believe that Secretary Tugade should do something drastic about this squabble among his lieutenants before the situation devours him as well.
(NB: Last Monday the complaining Asec was already fired from his post by President Rodrigo Duterte)

Posted in Opinion