"If trains, planes and boats are what it takes to get the country moving and unify the nation, Tugade has done it."
Department of Transportation Secretary Arturo P. Tugade Jr. spoke yesterday before the Management Association of the Philippines by Zoom. He made a presentation on his achievements on the transportation front. One ranking MAP member described the presentation as mind-boggling.
Tugade is a lawyer who made a rags-to-riches fortune from his logistics business before joining the administration of President Duterte.
At DoTr, Tugade has achieved what amounts to a miracle in the transportation industry. In the past five years, he has done a lot, indeed. He promises to do more until the last day of the Duterte presidency on June 30, 2022.
Tugade and Duterte were law classmates at San Beda. The former was valedictorian of the class. The latter almost did not make it but has been a great success in public service—nine years as prosecutor, 23 years as Davao mayor, and six years as president. Duterte has never lost an election.
The achievements of Tugade in transportation and those of Public Works Secretary Mark Villar in infrastructure are what probably will justify voters in May 2022 to take a second look at Duterte’s presidency and say, “Let’s give his proxy candidate a chance at redemption.”
That candidate could be the feisty Davao Mayor Sara Duterte or former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.. Bongbong complained yesterday the Supreme Court denied him due process while seeking annulment of the 2016 vice presidential results on the ground that the high court does not know the rules for such an invalidation of electoral results.
Or maybe, boxing champion Senator Manny Pacquiao. Or, why not Ramon S. Ang, the president of San Miguel Corporation, the company that has produced more expressways and tollways than any other private company in the Philippines.
In 2016, there were only 77 kms of railways in the Philippines. For 50 years before that, not a single meter of railway was laid out by previous presidents. Tugade has built in five years 1,209 kms of railways. He has invested in railways more than the combined investments of previous governments in the past 50 years.
In 2016, the government operated only 62 railway stations and 234 trains and dished out only nine contracts for supply and maintenance.
Today, or by 2022 at the latest, the state could claim 1,209 kms of rail lines, 168 train stations, 1,381 trains, and 34 contracts. The Duterte administration secured P1.669 trillion in funding for these assets – P796.58 billion from Japan ODA (official development assistance), P444.6 billion from ADB, P307.04 billion from Chinese ODA, P107.76 billion from public-private partnership projects; and P13 billion from the general fund.
Tugade is bent on inaugurating at least a portion (about 8 kms by April 2022) of a gargantuan Metro Manila Subway, from Valenzuela City in the north to NAIA, a distance of 34 kms. The subway will cut travel time from 70 mins by half, to 35 mins., a boon to 370,000 passengers daily. With two giant boring machines in action, the project is 25 percent completed.
After 19 years of delay, the LRT 1 built by Imelda Marcos will be extended by 11.7 kms from Baclaran to Bacoor, Cavite. It will service 500,000 to 750,000 passengers a day.
Tutuban PNR main station will be linked to Clark/Malolos with a 37.6-km express train that will cut travel time from 90 minutes to just 35 mins, for the benefit of 300,000 passengers a day, using the latest model coaches that remind one of Japan’s bullet trains. The train line will be finished this year, 2021.
For the first time, Mindanao will have its own railway, 100 kms, from Tagum to Davao City to Digos. The first phase, Tagum to Carmen, opens in March 2022. The line will cut travel time from Tagum City to Digos City, by two-thirds, from three hours to just one.
In 2016, the NAIA was ranked as one of the worst, if not the worst, airport in the world. Passengers were subjected to “laglag bala” (“drop the bullet”) scam and forced opening of their luggage (to look for drugs or contraband) as a modus by corrupt NAIA employees. The terminals were crowded. Outside, mulcters, pilferers, and snatchers had a heyday. Robbers masqueraded as taxi drivers.
By 2018, NAIA was rated one of the Top Ten Most Improved airports in the world. Surprisingly, the immigration, customs and security people of NAIA are now honest and polite, thanks to Duterte’s vow to kill any recalcitrant. The government will no longer privatize the NAIA. It has the money and expertise to do the job by itself.
Outside of NAIA, Tugade is building a total of 237 airports—143 completed and 94 ongoing.
Among the showcase airports under the Duterte regime: the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, Clark International Airport (opening this June 11 to serve 12.2 million passengers); the Bohol-Panglao International Airport, the Bicol International Airport (for nine years, zero movement despite three groundbreaking ceremonies, but is now 80 percent complete to service 8.5 million passengers); Kalibo International Airport; Camiguin Airport; Ormoc Airport; and the Calbayog (Samar) Airport.
In 2016, the archipelago of 7,300 islands had only three radars to help in air traffic communications and navigation. Today, the country has 13; Tugade added 10 in just five years.
By the sea, Tugade is building 546 seaports; 428 have been completed; the remaining 118 the DoTR chief promises to finish by next year.
The Philippines has a coastline that is the second longest in the world (after Indonesia’s), and twice that of the US in length. Moving passengers and cargo by sea still makes a lot of sense—more reliable, often faster and cheaper, and many times, the only option.
Among the major ports completed: Cagayan de Oro, among the biggest with capacity of 3,000 passengers; Port of San Fernando, El Nido, Palawan; Tagbilaran; Maribojoc, Bohol; Tubigon, Bohol; and Lucena, Quezon.
DoTR has also beefed up its maritime assets, with new, high-tech, modern boats that can chase Chinese intruders away from the West Philippine Sea. Ten multi-role response vessels were acquired from Japan; four 24-meter fast patrol boats came from France. The Philippine Coast Guard has one 83.6-meter offshore patrol vessel. PCG is boosting its personnel by 5,500 to become 24,000-strong.
If trains, planes and boats are what it takes to get the country moving and unify the nation, Tugade has done it. And more. Congrats, Sir Art, my kababayan from Cagayan.