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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cheaper consumer goods vs. trees

The controversy regarding the cutting of trees in MacArthur Highway, Pampanga appeared to have boiled down to cheaper
consumer goods versus environmental concerns as DPWH officials now say that the road expansion project will bring down price of vegetables
coming from Baguio and rice from Central Luzon.

"Much have been said about the trees, I hope people will also be mindful of the rights of the general public to faster travel
time and to be able to buy cheaper vegetables and other farm products from Central Luzon and Baguio,'' said Undersecretary Romeo Momo of the
Department of Public Works and Highways.

Momo ordered a halt in the implementation of the project Tuesday in order to hold further talks with artists and
environmentalists opposing the cutting of 5,446 trees.

According to the DPWH Regional Director Alfredo Tolentino, the widening of the of the 200-kilometer MacArthur Highway, which
stretches from Caloocan City to La Union, would speed up travel time from about four hours to about two hours in the whole stretch of the road.

"Trucks carrying vegetables, rice and meat products are the ones mostly using the MacArthur Highway to avoid paying the toll
fees at the North Luzon Expressway. Savings in fuel cost would redound to the lowering of the prices of vegetable coming from Baguio ,"
Tolentino said.

Central Luzon is known as the rice granary of the Philippines .

Tolentino describes MacArthur Highway as the ``busiest road in Central Luzon , other than the NLEX." And for such busy road,
he said traffic gridlock often hit areas that still have two lanes measuring three meters wide.

The road-widening project, he said, would increase the road lanes to four, with each measuring 3.5 meters wide. The road will
also have "shoulders" of 1.5 meters wide on the sides.

 If the project is implemented according to plans, it would cost about P6 billion and take about five years to finish.

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