MANILA, Philippines - UP economist Prof. Winnie Monsod believes the controversial C-5 road extension was an "unnecessary" and "wasteful" project where Senate President Manuel Villar benefited tremendously.
In her Philippine Daily Inquirer column last Saturday, Monsod said the government threw away P6.96-billion in public funds in the road extension, which was just a duplication of the earlier Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway (MCTEP) project, linking the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) to the Coastal Road.
The MCTEP was a joint venture between the government and a private Malaysian partner. Here, Monsod said the government only shelled out P2.68 billion for the purchase of the road right-of-way, and the private partner was responsible for the construction.
On the other hand, the P6.96-billion C-5 extension, which together with the Las Piñas-Parañaque Link Project (LPPLP), also links SLEX to Coastal, was wholly financed by the government.
"It was totally unnecessary to build a second one. There was a waste of scarce resources," said Monsod, who cited official documents from the Senate and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Monsod said that the C-5 extension passes through at least 50-52 hectares of Villar's property holdings, whose values increased significantly with the construction of the project.
She also said that in acquiring right of way, the government paid a whopping P168.1 million or an average P7,168 per square meter for Villar-related properties compared to only P22 million or P1,880 per sqm for non-Villar properties.
"This unnecessary and wasteful project was certainly Villar's idea," Monsod said, quoting a DPWH feasibility study stating that the project was conceived and initially funded by the senator.
"Villar benefited tremendously from the second (C-5 extension) project," Monsod added.
The Senate has already launched an inquiry into the controversial road project, and is currently tackling a committee report seeking the censure of Villar.
Villar claimed all these were meant to destroy his credibility before the elections. He said the C-5 road issue all started when his ratings began to improve in surveys.
Villar has maintained that the C-5 road project was not double-funded and overpriced.