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CDC wants billboard ban at SCTEx
By Tonette Orejas
Central Luzon Desk
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 16:31:00 05/15/2008

CLARK FREEPORT, Philippines -- Efforts are underway to ban the construction of commercial billboards along the 94-kilometers stretch of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx).

Maximo Sangil, director of the Clark Development Corp. (CDC), has asked CDC chairman Rizalino Navarro and Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) president Narciso Abaya, who is also CDC vice chairman, to come up with a policy prohibiting the erection of billboards along the SCTEx.

Sangil made the appeal at Tuesday's board meeting of the CDC, asking Navarro and Abaya to help craft the policy as members of the Subic-Clark Alliance for Development Council (SCADC).

He said the policy might be adopted by way of a memorandum of agreement between the SCADC and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the agency tasked with regulating the construction of commercial billboards along the country's national roads.

The SCTEx, partly opened since April 28, is the newest and longest national toll road in the country.

"I'm concerned for the safety of motorists. They should also enjoy the unspoiled beauty of our countryside," Sangil told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net).

"The memorandum should be issued before private lot owners along SCTEx start leasing their property to advertising companies," he said.

The SCTEx begins from the Tipo Road in Subic Bay Freeport, passes through Roosevelt Forest Park in Dinalupihan, Bataan, past the rice paddies of Hermosa out to a straight path carved along the Pampanga foothills of the Zambales mountain ranges, and ends in La Paz, Tarlac.

In a phone interview, Abaya said aside from Sangil, "several people have expressed their concerns to the management of the BCDA."

"There [is a] constant clamor not to have billboards along SCTEx," he said. "I know the BCDA will be making money if we lease parts [of the road's right-of-way] but it is also our duty to ensure the safety of motorists."

Abaya said while the BCDA may be up to this task, owners of lots outside the SCTEx would have to be disciplined as well.

The matter will be discussed at BCDA's board meeting on Tuesday.

Alfredo Tolentino, DPWH director for Central Luzon, said two advertising companies recently applied for permits to build billboards along the SCTEx's Subic-Clark portion.

He said he had yet to approve the applications, adding these would have to be studied according to the latest guidelines issued by Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr.

Billboards as a threat to public safety became an issue when several of the structures collapsed in Metro Manila during Typhoon Milenyo in 2006. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Administrative Order No. 160 directing the DWPH to dismantle billboards that pose danger to the public.

The DPWH in Central Luzon tore down 99 of 122 billboards along the North Luzon Expressway in October 2006. The 99 billboards, mostly in Bulacan and Pampanga, were built without permits.


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