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Isko returns Lacson underpass to Manileños

Manila Mayor-elect Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso did the right thing when he directed that the iconic Lacson pedestrian underpass leading to Quiapo Church be kept open to the public 24/7.

In 2014, Whitescope Property and Development Corp. won the contract for the structure’s renovation under a 25-year profit-sharing scheme with the city government. Renamed Victory Lacson underpass, it housed a fully air-conditioned mall with pay toilets.

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However, the underpass was open only from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays and from Mondays to Thursdays. On Fridays and Sundays, the closing time was moved to 9 p.m.

As a result, devotees of the Black Nazarene have no choice but to use footbridges or walk under Quezon Bridge along Palanca Street to reach Quiapo Church.

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Isko warned the mall operator (Victory Malls) that if it could not keep the underpass open 24/7, then it has no business being in the city.

I was informed that Isko had ordered a review of all contracts signed by the current administration.

Isko has already formed his management team led by former eight-termer Councilor Bernardito Ang, secretary to the mayor; former Councilor Felix Espiritu, city administrator, and Jun Moreno, city legal officer.

Former Transportation Undersecretary and dzRH broadcaster Cesar Chavez will serve as the mayor’s chief of staff.

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The race for the new House speaker is now in full blast with the President’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) just 27 days away.

The contenders are Marinduque Rep. Lord Velasco, Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, Pampanga Rep. Dong Gonzales, Davao Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez and Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.

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The President has indicated that he will make his choice known on Friday, June 28. This explains the flood of press releases from the different camps. There are reports of vote buying, term sharing, threats of party defections and the alleged influence wielded by the presidential siblings, Davao Mayor Sara Duterte and Rep. Paolo Duterte.

But seriously, the main task of the new House speaker is to prevent the approval of the national budget from being delayed again. The drawn-out squabble between senators and congressmen over “pork insertions” resulted in a drop in this year’s first quarter gross domestic product. It hit 5.6 percent compared to 6.5 percent in the same period in 2018.

With three years remaining, the Duterte administration must choose a speaker who will wholeheartedly push its legislative agenda while commanding the respect of legislators, the Cabinet and the President’s family.

I think there will be a “principled vote” for a new House speaker. Right now, it’s a toss-up between Romualdez and Cayetano.

However, who between them can the President rely on to defend and support his presidency, as well as his reform agenda? Also, who has the President’s trust?

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Tune in to the “Banner Story” radio-TV show, Monday-Friday, 6-9 a.m., on dzIQ (990AM), ABS-CBN TV Plus Channel 30. E-mail [email protected] for comments.

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TAGS: Isko Moreno, Jake J. Maderazo, Lacson Underpass, Sharp Edges, Victory Malls
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