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Gov’t ushers in infra ‘golden age’

The Duterte administration’s promise of ushering in the “golden age of infrastructure” will soon be a reality as the government speeds up the completion of big-ticket transport infrastructure projects.

“Because of the improvement, pwedeng masasabi na nakalagay na sa pedestal ng performance ng ating Pangulong Duterte yung paggawa ng golden age of infrastructure. These are concrete facts,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said.

Façade of the Clark International Airport
Façade of the Clark International Airport
“Never before has there been so many airports and ports constructed and renovated in a period of six years. Never before has there been a massive construction in the rail system for a period of four years.”

“You compared it to previous administrations and maybe we can say that because of the Duterte administration, patungo na tayo sa golden age of infrastructure,” he added.

Toward this end, the Duterte administration has adopted its boldest infrastructure development program, called “Build, Build, Build!”

Under the BBB program, the government allotted P8 to P9 trillion, raising the spending for infrastructure from only about 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) during the previous four administrations to an average of 5 percent of GDP.

“Are we finished? No. We would not stop building and rehabilitating airports, seaports and other infrastructure projects that will improve the lives of Filipinos,” Tugade said.

Long-standing issues solved

Tugade said when he took over as DOTr secretary in 2016, the Duterte administration was greeted with numerous long-standing issues that have tormented the country for years.

“I remember fully well when we were only starting to take on the challenge five years ago. The Filipino people have pinned their hopes on the new administration then – with eyes intently and critically watching us on what we would do next,” Tugade said.

Among those challenges were what he described as “reality issues” such as the “laglag bala” scheme at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the issuance of paper driver’s licenses, the country being known as “Republikang Walang Plaka,” and the traffic congestion dubbed as “EDSA carmageddon.”

The newly-built LRT Line 2 East Extension project  in Antipolo City, Rizal
The newly-built LRT Line 2 East Extension project in Antipolo City, Rizal
Now, Tugade said there is no more laglag-bala in NAIA, and that initiatives such as the upgrade and improvement of the international airport are already being undertaken, including the rehabilitation of the runway and the inauguration of its new taxiways.

Meanwhile, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) rolled out new driver’s license plastic cards that are valid for five years and has distributed more than 3 million motor vehicle plates.

Tugade also cited the establishment of the EDSA Busway and bike lanes to promote active transportation. To ensure the safety of cyclists and other road users, 296 kilometers of bike lanes have been completed with pavement markings, bollards, and solar studs. T

The DOTr aims to complete 535 kilometers of bike lanes in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao before the year ends.

Railway sector achievements

Tugade also said the massive MRT-3 rehabilitation will be completed by December this year.

Currently, the railway runs at 60 kilometers per hour, with waiting time between trains at just 3.5 minutes, and with an all-time high of 23 operational trains. The MRT-3 is also now cooler with new air conditioning units.

Further, the DOTr is working on some long-delayed rail projects. These include the Metro Manila Subway, the country’s first underground railway system that was first conceived in 1973 but with actual construction only in 2019.

In addition, Tugade said the LRT-1 Cavite Extension, which was delayed for 19 years, as well as the Manila to Clark Railway, which was planned in 1993, are undergoing full-blast construction.

More aviation infra projects

Tugade also said the 110,000-square meter Clark International Airport New Passenger Terminal Building is already completed and expects to create 150,000 new jobs.

The Clark International Airport New Passenger Terminal Building is the first hybrid public-private partnership (PPP) project completed under the BBB program.

“This will prove that the Duterte Administration’s Build, Build, Build is not just a dream … It is real. It is true. And it is here,” Tugade said.

He added that from 2016 to the present, the DOTr Aviation Sector has completed a total of 121 airport projects. These projects include the Bohol-Panglao International Airport, which was inaugurated in 2018, and the Bicol International Airport with a current progress rate of almost 80 percent.

Restored maritime infrastructures

From 2016 to the present, the DOTr and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) were able to complete 426 seaport projects nationwide. These include the Cagayan de Oro Port’s Passenger Terminal Building (PTB) – the biggest port terminal in the country.

Tugade said the Ormoc and Tacloban Ports, as well as the Tagbilaran and Maribojoc Ports, damaged by the Super Typhoon Yolanda and the strong earthquake in 2013, were likewise restored.

On maritime safety, the DOTr continues to modernize the country’s lighthouses. From only 113 in 2014, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has hugely increased the number of operational lighthouses to 600 as of March 2021.

The PCG also acquired modern and high-tech equipment, not only for border patrol, but also for search and rescue operations, as well as humanitarian service.

“With barely a year left before we step down, we will exert all efforts to finish what we have started, fulfill what we have promised, and deliver what we have envisioned,” Tugade said.
 

Key accomplishments

Foreign affairs

✔ Pushed for the abolition of the kafala system that has allowed unjust and exploitative conditions of overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East

✔  Return of the historic Balangiga bells

✔ Reaffirmed the country’s victory in the arbitral ruling that invalidated China’s massive claims in the South China Sea during the 75th United Nations General Assembly

✔ Reshipment of trash back to Canada

Pandemic response

✔ Passage of Bayanihan Laws (1 and 2) that financed the government’s COVID-19 response

✔ Over 16 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered as of July 23, placing the Philippines in the second spot in terms of vaccine rollout in Southeast Asia

✔ Secured over 160 million doses of life-saving jabs in the next six months

Defense

✔ Completed 54 projects under the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Act

✔ Acquisition of two missile frigates – BRP Jose Rizal and BRP Antonio Luna

✔ Salary adjustment (58.7 percent average increase) for all military and uniformed personnel

Priority measures passed

✔ Universal Health Care Law

✔  Universal Access to Quality Education Act

✔  Coconut Trust Fund Law

✔ Anti-Terror Act

Economy

✔ Signing of four of eight measures under the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program, namely the Tax Amnesty Act, the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE), law increase excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol products, and the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law (TRAIN)

✔ Revision of the water concession deals to ensure better terms for the government

✔ Achieved the country’s highest ever credit rating of BBB+ in April 2020

Topics: golden age of infrastructure , transport infrastructure projects , Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade , BBB program
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