Drop dead, critics!

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    ‘… it drives internet traffic to his direction, which is good for somebody who is young and politically ambitious like him.’

    PRESIDENTIAL spokesman Harry Roque was a little inebriated by the occasion: the arrival at the Manila Harbor Center Port Services in Manila of the rotating drill head of the first among the six tunnel boring machines (TBMs) intended to dig tunnels in the partial operability section of the first underground railway system of the country.

    Roque’s speech started in a normal tone of voice, saying “The arrival of this equipment is significant because it contributes further to what I have described as the renaissance of Philippine infrastructure.”

    Secretary Roque continued to heap praises on his boss, saying, “Presidents will come and go, but in the annals of history, President Duterte will be remembered for the renaissance of infrastructure, for beating COVID-19, and of course, for all the social legislation that he so shepherded including Universal Health Care and Free Tuition in State Colleges and Universities.”

    It was all too good, that the nation will have its very first subway, perhaps half a century late than Seoul and Singapore, but still, finally, it will see the light of day thanks to the Japan International Cooperation Agency. The thought was so strong and the enticement to brag about it irresistible that Roque succumbed to the temptation, thereby ruining the moment: “Let today’s event be recorded in the annals of Philippine history as another first for the Duterte administration. And to his critics, I have only this to say: Manigas kayong lahat (Drop dead, all of you).”

    Well, for that, Roque was again placed at the receiving end of blistering criticisms from Internet users, ordinary citizens and celebrities alike. But then, Harry Roque is no stranger to scathing criticism, to insults even, that he thanks those who are vilifying him for it makes him popular, it drives internet traffic to his direction, which is good for somebody who is young and politically ambitious like him.

    Despite the presidential spox’ O.A. reaction, there is indeed some pride in having big-ticket infrastructure projects realized under the Duterte administration, and the subway is one of them. The P51-billion loan agreement was signed with JICA last March 2018 to jump-start the project.

    The Metro Manila Subway Project is the first underground railway system in the country that will provide the most modern mass transportation in the National Capital Region, from Valenzuela City to Food Terminal Inc. in Parañaque, and Ninoy Aquino International Airport 3 in Pasay City, with provisions for other lines. With the help of 25-tonner boring machines, the system is expected to partially operate in 2022 and fully operate in 2026.

    The project surely adds luster to the achievements of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and President Duterte, though Karen Davila wanted Roque’s excitement a little bit subdued.