By Dr. Jun Ynares, M.D.
By “Rizal,” we mean both the province and our national hero who will mark his 156th birth anniversary tomorrow, the 19th of June.
By “honor,” we refer to the possible decision by the members of the Philippine Senate to choose Antipolo City – Rizal province’s beloved component city and capital – as the site of a permanent home.
In our columns of the past two Sundays, we wrote about Antipolo’s bid to host the Senate’s permanent home. We cited three compelling reasons for our senators to choose Antipolo – economic, historic, and strategic.
We have shared with our readers what we believe are strong economic reasons. Among them: That the Senate will save R4 billion for building construction, R110 million for its annual rental rates, R1.44 billion for land acquisition since Antipolo is offering the site for free; and, the presence of the Senate in Antipolo will serve as an “economic magnet” which will boost the development prospects of Eastern and Southern Luzon. It will also tilt the balance a bit in favor of countryside development over urban overdevelopment.
We also shared compelling historical reasons. We referred to the fact that Antipolo and Rizal province are home to some of the biggest names in the history of the Philippine legislature, and of the country’s saga of nationalism and patriotism.
Today, we would like to share with our readers the compelling strategic reasons.
By “strategic” we refer to accessibility, safety, and security, and adequacy of basic services for the proposed site of the permanent home of the Philippine Senate.
Let’s talk about “accessibility.” This translates to “being able to get to the place easily and fast.”
A number of senators who expressed openness to the idea of an Antipolo site pointed to one distinct advantage of the proposed location: “contra traffic.”
“Contra traffic” means our senators would be travelling in a direction opposite to that of the rush-hour crowd. Most motorists and commuters are south-bound in the morning rush, and north-bound in the mad evening dash to go home.
Our senators would be travelling in the opposite direction. They will be north-bound in the morning and will have three options as to how they would want to get to the proposed site of the Senate’s permanent home in Antipolo.
Here’s another strategic advantage: the proposed site at Sitio Cabading is only 30 minutes away from the site of the permanent home of Congress at the Batasan area in Quezon City.
The proposed site is at one of the highest points in southern Luzon – next only to Tagaytay. It is cooler than most part of the metropolis and offers an imposing and enchanting view of Laguna de Bay – yes, that same body of inland water that inspired the community of artists of Rizal, and Dr. Jose Rizal himself.
Our Senators would also need not worry about security. The proposed site is 10 minutes from the home of the Philippine Army’s 16th Infantry Battalion, and less than half an hour from Camp Capinpin in nearby Tanay.
Is the site safe? Well, it is good to know that it is not in Phivolc’s list of areas that are prone to floods and neither it is near a fault line.
Will our senators find comfort and convenience should they decide to stay in Antipolo while the Senate is in session?
Well, Antipolo still has the atmosphere of a provincial haven.
True, infrastructure development is happening at a rapid pace. The extension of LRT Line 2 to Masinag will be completed soon. Three major roadways running along Laguna de Bay (namely the Laguna Lake Expressway Dike, Rizal Eastlake Development, and C6) and connecting Rizal and Antipolo to the southern part of Metro Manila are in the pipeline. We are looking at completing an eight-lane intra-city road network.
Nearly all of the country’s top private sector developers are helping transform Antipolo into a modern city while preserving its countryside character.
Modern private hospitals are present in the city. Antipolo also has its own hospital system with several sites.
Will the children of our senators and staff find good schools in the city? Definitely. Antipolo and nearby Taytay are home to some of the country’s finest private educational institutions like Assumption, La Salle, San Benildo, Our Lady of Fatima University, Antipolo Faith Christian School, Paref Rosehill School, San Beda, among others. The University of Rizal System – which has a site in the city – constantly produces graduates who top their chosen fields.
Some have whispered to me that a number of Senators who live in villages in south of Metro Manila would definitely thumb down the idea of making Antipolo the site of the Senate’s permanent home.
“That’s just too inconvenient for them,” I have been told.
I disagree with that view.
I believe the senators will not make a decision based on purely personal, selfish reasons.
I share the faith of many that our senators will make a decision based on sound and patriotic reasons.
I have faith that they will seriously consider the compelling economic, historic, and strategic reasons for choosing Antipolo.
When they do, they will honor Rizal, both the province and the hero.
The great Filipino whose birthday will be celebrated tomorrow chose martyrdom over convenience.
I have faith that our senators are cut from the same fabric from which Filipinos like Dr. Rizal cut.
May our country be blessed with more Dr. Rizals.
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