Asian Century Journal

An Asian Century Philippines Publication

Win-win Cooperation Manifesting in Bridges Of Amity And Prosperity

In the swirl of war and dire economic news coming out of eastern Europe some of us almost missed the significance of this day, April 5, 2022.

On this day the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge project costing P5.5-billion and serve 30,000 motorists daily will be opened to use to relieve the congested City of Manila’s Chinatown Central Business District daily traffic.

For me this bridge now serving the Pasig River crossing of one of the busiest parts of the metropolis, along with its companion grant-in-aid bridge spanning the Pasig River from Makati to Mandaluyong and better known as the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge, is especially memorable.

We had to fight a fierce information war to prevent them from being aborted by disinformation. One rabid source of the disinformation campaign against both bridge donation is from a German expat named Frank Schuengel writing in a little know website identifying itself as “Visor”.

The Old Rockwell Bridge.
The new Estrella-Pantaleon (Rockwell) Bridge.

On November 29, 2018 Schuengel published an article entitled “Is the Binondo-Intramuros Friendship Bridge friendly to us?” citing the opposition of the Chamber of Commerce of the Philippine Islands (CCPI, an antediluvian and no-significance business group of ancient Spanish period comprador business group) due to its fear that its old building on Magallanes Drive as well as the Plaza de Mexico monument and the walls of Intramuros itself could be endangered or destroyed.

Following the lead from Schuengel’s article led me to confront by e-mail Mr. Jose Luis U. Yulo who was president of the CCPI who could not provide any answer to provide me any credible basis for his organization’s fears of any danger to the structural integrity of their old building, to the Plaza de Mexico or to the walls of historic Intramuros. Other than his say-so he could not provide any credible engineering basis.

Another source of the opposition to the Binondo-Bridge project was the ICONOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites which issued a position paper on the controversy entitled “Heritage Perspective on the Binondo-Intramuros Friendship Bridge” which struck me as basically an emotional Luddite (anti-technological, anti-modernization) perfunctory appeal which was used by various other groups to obstruct the China grant projects.

The anti-China senate obstructionist joined the anti-Binondo-Intramuros Bridge act with then Senate Majority Leader Franklin Drilon calling for an inquiry into the construction of the bridge. Sen. Nancy Binay got into the act to echo Drilon.

 As usual nothing came out of these pointless exercises except to get these politicians into the front pages for a day or two while the traffic mess continued to pile up in the most congested district of the City of Manila.

The Binondo-Intramuros Bridge belied all naysayers. Here undergoing final touch-ups before inauguration is already being touted to the most beautiful and best-constructed infrastructure in the country, taking into consideration the most sensitive heritage sites in Old Manila.

Speaking of traffic congestion, I am just now reminded of by a text to me reporting that the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge between Makati and Mandaluyong is at this exact moment is being highly appreciated an oil tanker truck has turned on its side on Edsa and blocking the whole of Edsa causing a kilometers long traffic jam and many motorists are crossing over the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge to get to Shaw Blvd, Mandaluyong and onwards.

You wouldn’t get the importance of the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge if back in January 19, 2019 you read the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) headline “Poe asks gov’t to reconsider closure of Estrella-Pantaleon bridge”.

Quoting Poe “This is a case of a bridge we may not need, whose construction will inconvenience many for a long time…” and more politicized comments reflecting U.S. and other political intrigues against a global “blue” chip company.

The German “Managing Director at Autonomode” Frank Scheungel who also advertises himself as a “btc, crypto, gambling, cryptocurrency” also wrote on the Rockwell Bridge or the P 1.5-billlion Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge that China donated to the Philippines and opened on July 29, 2021 in the midst of the pandemic. Scheungel wrote, “Why rebuilding the Rockwell Bridge makes no sense” and “It’s not too late to reconsider the Rockwell Bridge project” in January of 2019.

Scheungel argued, which was echoed by other some Filipino anti-China hacks or columnists like Philippine Star’s Federico Pascual who wrote on March 12, 2019 “Replace Rockwell Bridge, worry later?” and Jarius Bondoc on “Chinese who ruined Phl reefs still raking in govt projects” – argued that he old and rickety two-lane modular steel beam bridge opened in 2011 is still good enough despite the tripling or quadrupling of traffic on Edsa and its spillovers.

Senator Poe again, the American citizen and Filipino-for-convenience two-faced fraud, blasted the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge project from her perch in the Senate.

In the letterhead of the Senate she issued a press release dated January 11, 2019 trumpeting “Poe Blasts Planned Closure of Makati-Mandaluyong Bridge, asks DPWH to explain”, and “to add insult to injury” she said the contractor is the same state-owned firm assigned to reclaim the islands in the West Philippine Sea as Bondoc also said.

The new Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge donated by China is a four-lane steel box girder bridge with pedestrian and bicycle lanes in classy modern design and lighting. The contrast between the old two-lane rickety bridge and the new and fantastically beautiful four-lane concrete and steel box girder bridge is like blight and bright, night and day.

With the old bridge which often used too long traffic queues were a daily routine, but today I have never experienced a jam on the new bridge.

I don’t take taxis as I drive myself, but friends who do regularly take taxis or the Grab cars give me feedback about drivers’ reactions to the new bridge without knowing who they should thank.

Now a popular TV guest personality and our fellow write in SovereignPH.com and co-host on our TV, radio ad online shows Anna Malindog-Uy say taxi drivers are effusively praise the beauty of the Estrella-Pantaleon bridge but don’t even know it’s a China grant project.

As late as March 29, 2021 the Western media anti-China mafia including the Amboys in Manila were still peddling the line and lie that China has not delivered on its Build, Build, Build” aid.

Richard Heydarian in the Nikkei Asia article wrote “How Jokowii bested China, while Duterte ended up a lackey” pushing that line that China had duped Duterte and not delivered anything. You now it’s a diktat from the State Department propaganda machine because you read in all over Western media and think tanks.

The Council of Foreign Relations featured in June 2021 an article by Joshua Kurlantzick saying the same thing, “’Duterte’s Ingratiating Approach to China has Been a Bust’… The lack of follow-through on investments China promised to the Philippines contrasts sharply with other SEA states….”

Aside from the fact that no other SEA states have as many obstructionists as the Philippine in China-related projects, the Philippines started much later that all other SEA states in cooperating with China.

Anti-China and anti-Duterte obstructionists here are a-dime-a-dozen. Local politicians to extract “tong” before approving clearances, roving NPA bands egg local indigenous tribe to oppose projects lest they lose their hiding places, local priests and bishops bloc the projects just to oppose Duterte or China.

These elements have delayed projects like the Chico River irrigation Dam, the Kaliwa Dam that would supply 600-mlm (million liters per minute) for Metro-Manila future water supply.        

Through it all China has persisted in carrying out all commitments made when in 2016 in the first visit of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to his friends President Xi Jinping of China.

Not only are the public projects proceeding are originally planned but, likewise, the private part of the investment commitments such as the DITO telecommunications project, as well as the largest steel mill project with Panhua Industrial Steel, both adding up to $ 10-billion when completed.

It’s been only six years since Philippines-China relations had been restored to its former glory going back to the Tang, Song, Yuan and Ming Dynasties, and through the anti-colonialism struggle of both China and the Philippines in the collaboration of Mariano ponce with Sun Yat-Sen, and onto the cooperation of the Wah Chi battalion with Filipino guerillas versus the Japanese invaders in the Philippines in the Second World War.

Now, the new bridges of friendship and cooperation between the Philippines and China reminds us that we are going towards the completion of a second millennium of Philippine-China relations – and this time in an era of the Asian Century and the multipolar world as the Western powers and it neo-colonial era finally succumbs to the last lights of its dusk.

No to dumb naysayers and agents of gloom and doom!

Welcome our age of Win-Win cooperation and peace with the Bridges of Amity and Prosperity!

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