The Duterte administration has a new battlecry and it is "Build, Build, Build."
With the goal of decongesting Metro Manila and various other cities around the Philippines, a comprehensive, nationwide infrastructure program is set to be implemented beginning 2017 with an unprecedented budget of 5.4% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In a show of unity and cooperation between the various agencies tasked to spearhead the construction of key infrastructure projects, the press briefing was attended by Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director General Ernesto Pernia and the president and CEO of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) Vivencio Dizon.
At the behest of President Duterte, 25% of the DPWH budget has been allocated to decongestion of not just Metro Manila, but also of major cities around the country that are already experiencing the negative effects of poor vehicular flow.
According to Secretary Villar, at least five infrastructure projects are slated to begin next year and these are the following:
- Santa Monica-Lawton-BGC Bridge, which aims to remove at least 100,000 vehicles on EDSA or 35% of the traffic. Bridge ramp will be in BGC and Ortigas.
- The elevated UP-Miriam-Ateneo Viaduct that will decrease travel time in the area by 80%. The first phase will be to widen the at-grade level before beginning work on the elevated viaduct.
- Iloilo-Guimaras-Negros-Cebu Link Bridge will be the most ambitious project of the country to date; costing approximately of about $1 billion, it is slated to finish before end of the Duterte administration.
- Davao City Bypass Construction Project will reduce travel between Digos, Davao Del Sur to Panabo, Davao Del Norte from 2 hours to only 45 minutes.
- Public-Private Partnership (PPP) to start next year is the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road that will cut travel time between Alabang and Balintawak to 30 minutes. It aims to finish by 2020 at the latest.
- The DPWH also intends to construct 20 additional bypass projects all over Philippines to decongest major cities.
For his part, DOTr Secretary Tugade revealed plans to construct the various railway projects to facilitate mobility of commuters, including basic goods and commodities. These include the following:
- The 85-kilometer Manila-Clark Railway, which will cut transit time between Manila to Clark to 1 hour.
- The Php 450 million Subic-Clark Railway is a 60-kilometer track specifically designed to maximize Subic as a seaport and the Clark airport for cargo. It will also enable the area to become a logistics hub in Northern Luzon.
- Southline Rail Project will connect Manila to Sorsogon, which is around around 600 km and will have an estimated cost of Php 200 billion.
- Mindanao Express is a 2,000-kilometer railway that will connect Davao to Cagayan de Oro and Surigao and reduce travel time to only two hours. The first phase estimated at 200 kilometers has is expected to be complete within the term of President Duterte.
- Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit System aims to break ground in 2017 in partnership with BCDA. If successful, the project may be implemented in Cebu.
- BGC to NAIA Bus Rapid Transit System will cut travel time to NAIA from BGC to only 15 minutes
Several of these projects have been processed by the NEDA Board, which is chaired by President Duterte, and are now the various stages implementation by the concerned agencies.
Set to get approval from the NEDA Board is the road widening project from Tutuban to Manila, which aims to increase the 9-kilometer one-lane road to two lanes each way, and the Valenzuela connection from Quezon City that will give commuters headed to the North Luzon Expressway and vice-versa an alternate route.
A 24/7 construction schedule composed of three shifts is planned for all of these infrastructure projects in order to keep it in schedule or better yet, finish ahead of time.
With the goal of parity between the Philippines and its neighboring countries in Asia in terms of infrastructure, the Duterte administration also revealed plans to further increase the budget to 7% of the GDP.