"In societies where Robbing Hoods are treated like a celebrity it is but natural to expect political parties to act like a Mafia syndicate" Political Jaywalker "In a nation where corruption is endemic people tend to confuse due process with aiding and abetting criminals" Political Jaywalker "War doesn't determine who is right, war determines who is left" Bertrand Russell "You have just one flash flood of money, you keep your people poor. It's like a time bomb and it's scary" Philippine Lawmaker

The Case for SCTEX--The Untold Justification

This is in reaction to Messrs. Ado Paglinawan's and Ricardo Barcelona's emails/articles, which condemned in harshest terms the Subic-Clark- Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) extension to Tarlac City as totally unnecessary and for the sole benefit of Hacienda Luisita owners, then intimated that the Cojuangco's should refund the P32-billion construction cost to the government, in much the same way that Senator Manny Villar is being asked to refund the P6-billion extension cost of C-5. (The statement that the Cojuangcos should refund the P32-billion SCTEX cost is absurd because it is the total cost of the 94-kilometer expressway from Subic Port in Zambales to Clark in Pampanga to Tarlac City--and SCTEX is part of the nation's infrastructure system for the benefit of the people, not just of the Cojuangcos!)

I will deal with the need for SCTEX extension in this email and treat that of C-5 extension in a separate later email.


We have often lamented the lack of vital infrastructures that deters both local and foreign investors from investing in our country, thereby helping make our economy the basket case in Asia. To address this need, the government has embarked on 17 URBAN LUZON BELTWAY infrastructure projects in "the nation's industrial heartland," as advertised in the Manila Bulletin issue of February 14, 2010, page 17. Number 2 in the list (after the Diosdado Macapagal Airport in Pampanga) is SCTEX from Zambales to Pampanga to Tarlac. Other projects included in the list are Subic, Dingalan, Batangas, Mindoro, Marinduque, and Lucena ports; SLEX Extension to Star Tollway; NLEX; Tarlac-Nueva Ecija-Dingalan Port Road; NAIA Terminal 3; etc.

If our economy has to pick up, we cannot postpone any longer the addressing, among other things, of our infrastructure needs. Toward this end, the SCTEX to Tarlac was constructed. Therefore, in evaluating this project, we have to look at the needs it will meet and the benefits it will provide. If we will say that it is not a priority project, then what should take precedence over it--the C-5 extension that duplicates in a circuitous fashion the original C-5 alignment, in a way like rounding the Cape of Good Hope instead of taking the short-cut Suez Canal route?

SCTEX Extension to Tarlac
Serves as De Facto Fusion of
MacArthur Highway in the West
and Maharlika Highway in the East

SCTEX to Tarlac is the partial answer to the long felt need for faster (or traffic-free) and safer highway to the north by Luzon travelers, including tourists, merchants, and haulers of goods. For, SCTEX can very well serve as the COMMON EXPRESSWAY by those coming from (or going to) northwestern, central northern, and northeastern LUZON (ILOCOS Region, CORDILLERA Administrative Region, and CAGAYAN VALLEY Region) in the Tarlac to Mabalacat leg of their journey to (and from) Metro Manila. As such, its construction is definitely justifiable- -certainly more justifiable than that of the duplicate C-5 extension.

With SCTEX up to Tarlac City, in the case of Manila-bound travelers passing through the Maharlika Highway and coming from northeastern Luzon (Cagayan Valley Region), upon reaching Talavera town in Nueva Ecija (about km. 132), they can now leave Maharlika Highway and proceed instead to alternate routes in inland Nueva Ecija (the relatively short distance from Maharlika Highway in Talavera to Tarlac segment of the Tarlac-Nueva Ecija-Dingalan Road, via Quezon-Licab towns or Aliaga town in Nueva Ecija) that lead to SCTEX Tarlac Interchange (about km. 125).

That way, Maharlika Highway travelers can avail themselves early enough of faster and safer EXPRESSWAY by way of the SCTEX that currently starts from Tarlac City on the way to Manila. Taking this diversion route is much better than pursuing the tortuous and traffic-prone continuation of the Maharlika Highway in Cabanatuan City, then to the Nueva Ecija towns of Sta. Rosa, San Leonardo, and Gapan, as well as Bulacan towns of San Miguel, San Ildefonso, San Rafael, Baliwag, Pulilan, and Plaridel, before finally entering the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) at Sta. Rita Interchange (km. 36) in Guiguinto, Bulacan on the way to Manila.

From Talavera, Nueva Ecija at km. 132 of Maharlika Highway, it is obvious how much time and torture travelers have to spend and endure further before reaching the fast and hassle-free NLEX at km. 36 in Bulacan via the same Maharlika Highway, compared to reaching the new similarly fast and hassle-free SCTEX at km. 125 in Tarlac, via diversion routes that connect to Tarlac-Nueva Ecija-Dingalan Road.

As additional benefit, with the diversion of many vehicles from Talavera, Nueva Ecija (km. 132) to SCTEX in Tarlac (and vice versa), volume of vehicles and traffic congestion in Maharlika Highway from Cabanatuan City (km. 116) to NLEX Sta. Rita Interchange in Guiguinto, Bulacan (km. 36) will be minimized.

For further information, annexed are two SCTEX maps (surfed from the Internet) with corresponding notation below each.

SCTEX Extension Will Do Away
With the Need for Superfluous NLEX
from Mabalacat, Pampanga to Tarlac City

The present NLEX ends at Sta. Ines (about km. 85) near MacArthur Highway in Mabalacat, Pampanga. In effect, the new SCTEX Mabalacat to Tarlac route starts where NLEX ends. From the SCTEX Mabalacat Interchange to Tarlac City Interchange, SCTEX does away with the need for expensive construction of NLEX Mabalacat to Tarlac City segment. Therefore, if SCTEX is in lieu of NLEX in the cited segment, it will benefit not just travelers using the Maharlika Highway but more so the regular NLEX users who exit at Sta. Ines and take the MacArthur Highway towards Baguio City, the Ilocos Region, and the Cordillera Administrative Region.

(Note: According to Wikipedia, the Clark-Tarlac segment of SCTEx is in fact the extension of Phase 1 of the North Luzon Expressway or NLEX.)

With SCTEX already constructed up to its terminal point in Tarlac City, NLEX need not duplicate the SCTEX Mabalacat-Tarlac City segment. Instead, NLEX construction can start where SCTEX ends at Tarlac City, then proceed further towards northern Luzon up to as far as available funds can finance. This should eventually include an NLEX branch connecting it to Maharlika Highway between Talavera town and Cabanatuan City.

SCTEX at Eastern Side of MacArthur
Highway in Tarlac City is Correct
Not Because of Hacienda Luisita

As constructed and shown on the annexed SCTEX maps, SCTEX passed at the eastern side--along Hacienda Luisita--instead of western side of MacArthur Highway in Tarlac City. This is correct because it provides a shorter and faster connection from SCTEX at Tarlac City to Maharlika Highway in the east. If SCTEX were at the western side of MacArthur Highway, to connect to and from Maharlika Highway in the east, vehicles have to cross MacArthur Highway and pass through traffic-prone areas of Tarlac City. Under the situation, to address the traffic problem, an expensive flyover together with widening of road may even be needed.

SCTEX Extension Supports the Role of Tarlac as Melting Pot and Industrial Hub in Central Luzon, as Well as Gateway to Northern Luzon

With the interconnection of Subic Port in the west coast and Dingalan Port in the east coast of Luzon, as well as the de facto merger of MacArthur Highway in the west and Maharlika Highway in the east of Luzon--all converging at the strategically located Tarlac City--Tarlac has become the melting pot and logical industrial hub in Central Luzon, as well as gateway to northern Luzon. Any imperative plan for the nation's industrialization will, therefore, have to consider Tarlac City as an ideal site for industrial zone. In this regard, part of Hacienda Luisita may indeed be considered for the purpose and the present SCTEX route is already geared towards that purpose.

* * *
In sum, with or without Hacienda Luisita, SCTEX to Tarlac is a fast and safe COMMON EXPRESSWAY needed by those traveling to and from parts of Central Luzon, Baguio City, the Ilocos Region, the Cordillera Administrative Region, and Cagayan Valley Region--in other words, practically the entire northern part of Luzon after Tarlac City.

MARCELO L. TECSON San Miguel, Bulacan

April 19, 2010
============ ========= ========== ==

NOTE: Those coming from Metro Manila and traveling to the north through NLEX can exit from NLEX at Mabalacat, Pampanga (after Dau Toll Plaza but before Sta. Ines), take the short southwest route to the SCTEX Mabalacat Interchange, then proceed northward to the present SCTEX terminal point at TARLAC CITY INTERCHANGE. From there, passenger cars, buses, cargo trucks, etc. can SPLIT and proceed towards the following MAJOR DESTINATIONS:

(1) Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Abra, Ilocos Norte, Baguio City, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Apayao in the ILOCOS Region and CORDILLERA Administrative Region;

(2) Maharlika Highway--the old Cagayan Valley Road--at Nueva Ecija (at Talavera town--bypassing traffic prone Cabanatuan City--via Licab and Quezon towns or via Aliaga town), then towards Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, as well as Isabela and Cagayan in the CAGAYAN VALLEY Region.

With SCTEX as new alternate route for travelers to and from northern Nueva Ecija up to Cagayan Valley Region, they can now bypass the Plaridel (Bulacan)-Cabanatua n City segment of the Maharlika Highway, thereby affording themselves a faster and safer route and at the same time helping reduce the heavy traffic, especially during holidays, in the bypassed Maharlika Highway segment, particularly in the towns of Plaridel, San Rafael, and San Ildefonso in Bulacan and Sta. Rosa in Nueva Ecija, as well as Cabanatuan City.

(3) Tarlac-Nueva Ecija-Dingalan Road, on the way to the towns of La Paz in Tarlac, Zaragoza and Sta. Rosa in Nueva Ecija (including part of Fort Magsaysay in Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija and Palayan City), and ultimately at Dingalan in Quezon Province, along the Pacific Ocean. With the completion of this road, Subic Port in the west coast is now linked to Dingalan Port in the east coast of Luzon.

Upon reaching the Sta. Rosa (Nueva Ecija) point of Maharlika Highway, travelers may likewise go southbound to northern Bulacan, or northward to Cabanatuan City towards Talavera, Nueva Ecija and the Cagayan Valley Region.

============ ========= ========= =========

To Dingalan Port (East Coast or Pacific Ocean)

NOTE: Southbound, Maharlika Highway leads to Bulacan on the way to Metro Manila; northbound, it goes to Cabanatuan City, northern Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Ifugao, Quirino, Isabela, and Cagayan in Northeastern Luzon.

The downward (as shown on the map) Tarlac-Nueva Ecija Road, which appears perpendicular to the Maharlika Highway at the Sta. Rosa point of the map, is actually the Tarlac-Nueva Ecija-Dingalan Road, the newly built downward extension of which leads to Dingalan Port in Quezon Province at the eastern corridor of Luzon, the opposite destination of which is the Subic Port at the western corridor, which can be reached via SCTEX.

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