BAGUIO CITY—A proposal to realign the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (Tplex) at least 7 kilometers away from the original exit in Saytan, Rosario, La Union will cost the government an additional P12.5 billion or P500 million each year for 25 years, Benguet Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan said on Wednesday.
Cosalan, chairman of the House committee on public works, told the en banc session of the 55-member Cordillera Regional Development Council that the government will be heavily burdened by the extra cost if the proposed realignment is carried out.
Former congressman Mark Cojuangco of Pangasinan made the proposal, Cosalan said.
Under the contract between the government and the Philippine Development Investment Corporation—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-phase tollway.
“We have to be assertive of what we know would be beneficial for our 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 said it seemed that President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III and the consortium are not amenable to Cojuangco’s proposal to realign the exit because of the high cost it would entail.
The RDC-CAR, Benguet, Abra and Mountain Province provincial boards and the La Trinidad municipal council passed separate resolutions supporting the implementation by the Department of Public works and Highways of the original plan of the TPLEX which placed its exit 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 original plan in order to boost the tourism not only in the Cordilleras but also in the Ilocos Region.
Cosalan explained that the extra seven kilometers from the original exit would translate to delays in the daily transport of highland vegetables from the farm to the high-end markets and wet markets in Metro Manila and the lowlands.
The Benguet lawmaker said the additional travel time of at least 10 minutes as a result of the proposed realignment would also mean the depreciation of motor vehicles of businessmen, motorists and travellers alike.
Cosalan said that 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 on Cordillerans to be united in voicing out their support for the Aquino administration’s plan to complete the highway up to its original exit.
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