Mark Villar, Mr. Infra

"The secretary claims something incredible. "


Aside from improving tremendously the Philippine transportation system, thanks to Transportation Secretary Art Tugade, one other major achievement of President Duterte has been his scaling up the country’s infrastructure assets.

By the end of Duterte’s term on June 30, 2022, Filipinos can take pride in and enjoy the marvelous infra projects he has done, thanks to his Wharton-educated Public Works and Highways secretary Mark Villar, 42.

To cope with the pandemic, Villar has built 653 COVID-19 facilities (hospitals and clinics) with total bed capacity of 24,117.

As of April 2021, the national government in partnership with the private sector and the local government units, 653 COVID-19 facilities (from the crudest to the best) with a combined capacity of 24,117 beds. That is more hospital beds than combined hospital beds built in the last quarter century.

Duterte’s incessant cursing, sleep videos, absences from public notice, pandemic mismanagement, and lying on the West Philippine Sea detract from his administration’s solid achievements on infra.

Before Duterte, previous governments since 1986 spent only an average of 2 percent of the value of economic output (GDP) on infrastructure. Mark Villar more than doubled that—to 5 percent, which in real numbers translate into P1 trillion (that’s P1,000 billion) per year.

In six years, the administration would have spent an astronomical P6.3 trillion on infra—more than the combined infra spending of all presidents before Duterte. Of course, not all of that is government money.

Easily a third of the amount comes from private companies through the so-called PPP—public-private partnership. Government awards a highway concession, for, say, 30 year or longer, the private company builds the highway and charges toll to recover its money.

Infra is roads, ports, airports and similar vertical and horizontal projects. Digital is also counted as infra, but then, that is Duterte’s Waterloo. Our digital is still Stone Age—primitive and obsolete, although we are the text capital of the world.

Infra means building a city from scratch, like the $2 billion New Clark City. Its new terminal will be inaugurated this June.

Infra also means flood control structures of which 10,376 have been built by Villar, along with 317 evacuation centers (187 completed, 130 being built).

Infra is schools. The DPWH built 144,925 classrooms in 2,036 school buildings nationwide.

New schools and new classrooms have not, however, translated into greater literacy. Our high school students, in 2018, were last among 77 countries, in reading (they don’t understand nor remember what they read), math (ever heard of dagdag-bawas during elections?), and science (the cure to pandemic is lockdown?).

 How do you connect the country’s 7,300 islands? Through airports and seaports. And of course, through bridges. Villar has built 5,555 bridges.

Notable completed bridge projects include the Pigalo Bridge in Isabela, Angat River Bridge in Bulacan, Anduyan Bridge in La Union, Kalibo Bridge in Aklan, Pinguiaman Bridge in Sultan Kudarat, Governor Miranda Bridge in Davao del Norte.

Secretary Villar claims something incredible. He has built 26,500 kms of roads—almost our entire inventory of roads.

“One of the notable completed projects of DPWH is the Laguna Lake Highway which has a protected bike lane to promote active transport and zero carbon footprint,” he points out.

Other completed road projects include the Urdaneta City By-Pass Road in Pangasinan, the Pulilan-Baliuag Diversion Road, Bulacan, the Lucena City Underpass in Quezon, the Palo West By-Pass Road, Leyte; and the Valencia By-Pass Road in Bukidnon.

The DPWH chief has likewise built roads linking tourists spots to travellers, highways linking major factory sites and industrial hubs, and linking farms to markets.

As of December 2020—2,192 kilometers of tourism, roads have been completed. The 9.8- kilometer Sabangan-Sagada Road in Mountain Province is to be completed next year, providing easy and safe access to famous tourist spots such as the Hanging Coffins and the Sumaguing Cave (Sagada).

A 22-km. circumferential road will reduce travel time from Cagban Port (Boracay) to Ilig-Iligan Beach from 1 hour and 15 minutes to just 30 minutes. 

By December 2020—606 kilometers of access roads leading to industries and trade centers were completed. One of the priority ROLL-IT projects is the Poro Point Freeport Zone Road in La Union, completed last December of 2020. 

Linkages towards seaports, airports, and railway stations are also constructed under the KAlsada Tungo sa Paliparan, Riles at DaungAN or KATUPARAN Program; 406 kms. of road were completed under this program, which aims to augment the logistics transport and economic activities in all these key transport hubs.

The Dapa Port-Consuelo-Corazon-Sta. Cruz Station Road in General Luna Road in Siargao Island is targeted to be completed in June of 2021. It enhances the accessibility and mobility of tourism people, goods, and services in the country’s world-renowned surfing capital. 

As of December 2020—1,835 kilometers of farm-to-market roads were constructed and improved. The Inter-Island Linkage/Mega Bridge Program will provide linkages along with the various islands of the country through the construction of short and long bridges.

 Among the projects under this program is the 3.17-kilometer Panguil Bridge, 3.98-kilometer Samal Island-Davao City Bridge, the 32.25-kilometer Bataan-Cavite Bridge and then the 3.3- kilometer Cebu-Mactan Bridge.

The completion of the Panguil Bay Bridge will reduce travel time between Tubod in Lanao del Norte and Tangub in Misamis Occidental from 2.5 hours, to just 7 minutes.

 Across the Pasig River, three bridges will be completed –Binondo-Intramuros, Rockwell (Estrella-Pantaleon), and BGC to Ortigas CBD. Those bridges should decongest EDSA.

Up north, the completion this year of the Abusag Bridge in Cagayan will reduce travel time between Tuguegarao City, Cagayan, and Baggao, Cagayan from 150 minutes to just 90 minutes.

The Tagum City Flyover along with Agusan-Davao Road in Davao del Norte is 87 percent complete. 

In the central Philippines, the Metro Cebu Expressway will reduce travel between Naga City and Danao City from 3 hours to 1 hour and 10 minutes.

The building of the country’s longest mountain tunnels has started in Davao.. The 18-km Davao City Coastal Road will reduce travel time from Toril to Poblacion to 45 minutes to 15 minutes. A large section of this project is to be completed this year. 

Game-changing projects of the government is the 1,100-km Luzon Spine Expressway Network (LSEN) Program, from Ilocos in the north to Bicol in south Luzon, cutting travel time from 20 hours to nine.

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Topics: Tony Lopez , Department of Public Works and Highways , DPWH secretry Mark Villar , Mr. Infra , Transportation Secretary Art Tugade
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