A lawmaker on Monday warned incoming Public Works Secretary Mark Villar of a possible conflict of interest in the reopening and bidding of the P123-billion Laguna Lakeshore Expressway Dike Project because one of the bidders is a company owned by his father.
Reelected Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said he will seek a congressional inquiry into the LLEDP, noting that one of the bidders is Prime Asset Venture, owned by Villar’s father, former senator Manuel Villar.
“LLEDP is shaping up to be a private enterprise than a public utility,” he said. “The possible reopening of the LLEDP project in the next administration may pose a serious conflict of interest situation.”
Aside from Prime Asset Venture, Zarate said the qualified bidders for the mega-project included Team Trident (a consortium of business tycoons Jaime Zobel de Ayala’s Ayala Land Inc., Henry Sy’s SM Prime Holdings, Andrew Tan’s Megaworld and Erramon Aboitiz’s Aboitiz Equity Ventures), Alloy Pavi Hanshin consortium of the Malaysian-led firm MTD Group, Korean Hanshin Construction and Korea Rural Corporation and San Miguel Holdings Corporation of businessman Eduardo Eduardo Cojuangco.
“The LLEDP poses a huge negative impact on the environment and people surrounding Laguna de Bay and we believe that it is prudent for the next congress to step in through a thorough congressional probe,” Zarate said.
“As with all Public-Private Partnerships under the exiting Aquino administration, the deals are lopsided to the benefit of large businesses than the welfare of Filipinos. We hope to see an end to this kind of deals in the incoming Duterte administration,” Zarate said.
Foremost, he said, the megadike would affect 10.8 million people living in the coasts of Laguna Lake.
“This a huge number of people that will be dislocated, physically and economically, once the project pushed through. Also, 40 percent of food supply in Metro Manila comes from the Laguna Lake. The economic dislocation of our fisherfolk in Laguna de Bay could also mean a food shortage and surge in food prices in Metro Manila,” Zarate stressed.
Zarate said while the DPWH claimed that the dike was needed to solve flooding, some scientist groups have said it will make more harm than good.
“Aside from disrupting ecological balance and adding to the pollution in the lake, flooding will worsen along its shores up to its only exit point, the Pasig River. This could be setting us up for a worse calamity,” Zarate warned.
Instead of this mega-dike project, Zarate urged the next administration to pursue a rehabilitation of Laguna de Bay, being a vital food source for millions of people in Metro Manila.
“We believe this would result (in) a more inclusive development, a healthful ecology, and would boost food sufficiency than a mega-dike project instigated by big business,” Zarate pointed out.