The Duterte administration is slowly making headway toward building more infrastructure projects but issues on the right of ways and corruption are hindering the “golden age of infrastructure” goal.
The Department of Public Works and Highways so far is pushing the right buttons to accelerate the construction of critical infrastructure projects. The department, for one, granted an original proponent status to Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. to build the ambitious P22.4 billion Cavite-Tagaytay-Batangas Expressway, the first OPS granted under the Duterte administration.
CTBex is a 50.4-kilometer expressway that will connect Cavite and Batangas, with a spur road to Tagaytay City and ultimately terminating in Nasugbu, with another spur road to Tuy, Batangas.
“This is another sign that Build, Build, Build is all systems go,” DPWH Secretary Mark Villar said.
Under the “Build, Build, Build” program, the government plans to spend P8 trillion to P9 trillion, or roughly $160 billion to $180 billion, for the big-ticket projects.
The “Golden Age of Infrastructure" program aims to build more roads and bridges, airports and seaports with the end goal of decongesting the country and subsequently promoting inclusive growth and development.
New expressway projects
Villar also said the construction and acquisition of road right-of-way for Cavite-Laguna Expressway of MPCala Holdings Inc. were being rushed to complete the project with the planned 2020 deadline.
“To date, 96 percent of Letter Offer have been served to the landowners, 81 percent of the signed Deeds of Absolute Sale and Expropriation Cases have been submitted to the Office of the Solicitor General, and 21 percent of the Permits to Enter/Writ of Possessions have been issued,” Villar said.
Calax is a 45.29-kilometer, four-lane toll road which starts from CAVITEX in Kawit, Cavite and ends at the SLEX-Mamplasan Interchange in Biñan, Laguna with eight interchanges and one main toll barrier. It also has a bridge component of 12,207 meters inclusive of 4,618 meters of a viaduct.
The DPWH, meanwhile, said the C3 to R10 section of the NLEX Harbor Link was expected to open by the fourth quarter of 2019.
NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10 is an 8.25-km elevated expressway traversing the NLEX from Karuhatan, Valenzuela City, passing through Malabon City, Caloocan City and extending to R-10 in Dagat-Dagatan, Navotas City.
Featured as one of the big-ticket projects in the infrastructure plan, the NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10 is envisioned to alleviate traffic congestion and drive commerce between the Harbor area and Central and North Luzon.
It is seen to advance transport logistics and facilitate efficient delivery of goods by providing an alternative entry to NLEX, bypassing EDSA and other busy streets of Manila. Once opened, travel time from the Manila Port to the NLEX will take just 10 minutes.
“We want to fast-track all infrastructure projects,” Villar said.
To ensure efficient delivery of infrastructure, Villar has ordered the imposition of sanctions based on calculated actions on contractors with negative slippages.
“As early as when the system detects a 5 percent negative slippage—the contractor involved in the project will be given a warning and required to submit a “catch-up program” to eliminate the slippage or delay,” Villar said.
“If such slippage furthers to at least 10 percent—he will be given a second warning and required to submit a detailed action program on a two-week basis. At any point that such contractor incurs a delay of at least 15 percent, he will be given a final warning and required to come up with a more detailed program of activities with weekly physical targets, together with the required additional input resources,” he added.
Villar said while reforms were still being done to further improve fiscal spending, the agency’s absorptive capacity in 2017 was the highest it achieved since the start of the Duterte administration.
“In 2017, DPWH has already recorded the highest absorptive capacity at 92 percent above the 85 percent target—with P674.93 billion in allotments and P621.94 billion in obligations incurred. This is historically the highest absorptive capacity achieved by the department,” Villar said.
“This is far higher than the 70-percent absorptive capacity recorded in 2011—at a budget far lower. Allotment then was only at P173 billion and obligations was at P121 billion,” he added.
The DPWH as of June 15, 2018, has recorded a 68-percent absorptive capacity—with P457.13 billion obligations already incurred out of the P675.27 billion obligated. This excludes the projects executed by the department outside the General Appropriations Act, such as unsolicited proposals.
“While the department is performing at its best—we learned that the problem of underspending is an institutional issue that can only be cured by institutional reforms. We need to ensure there is discipline in the planning process,” Villar said.
“The Filipino should not be held liable for the flaws in the system. Corruption is a function of discretion and monopoly. In increasing accountability inside the system, we ensure faster budget execution and service delivery,” he said.
Villar also said the agency would fully migrate to the Infra-track System—a new monitoring system that utilizes the built-in geotagging feature, satellite technology, and drone monitoring.
“This will put an end to ghost project. Now, before contractor claims could be processed before payments can be made—they would now need to submit geotagged photos as well as geographic-based status reports,” he said.
“Corruption is a function of discretion and monopoly. The use of technology increases accountability and serves as a strong deterrent against any existing and future anomaly and delays,” he said.
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