• 2017 STATE OF THE NATION

    Building on the potential of PH

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    President Rodrigo Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address (SONA) is expected to present his administration’s proposed 2018 national budget of P3.767 trillion, with the biggest chunks going to education, infrastructure and health care.

    Sixty-one projects have their own website, build.gov.ph, echoing the government mantra to Build! Build! Build!.

    Build! Build! Build! is primarily championed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of Transportation (DoTr), the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) on the back of a budget of between P8 trillion and P9 trillion through 2022.

    The government’s goal of an apparent golden age of infrastructure is summed up by more railways, urban mass transport, airports and seaports; more bridges and roads; and new and better cities.

    The Transportation department is planning to lay down 1,000 kilometers of rails by 2022. The plan includes the revival of four lines of the Philippine National Railways: the 38-kilometer PNR North 1 connecting Tutuban, Manila with Malolos, Bulacan; the 69.5-kilometer PNR North 2, extending to Clark International Airport and New Clark City; the 72-kilometer PNR South Commuter 2, connecting Manila with Los Baños, Laguna; and the 581-kilometer South Long Haul from Manila to Legazpi City, passing through Laguna, Batangas, Quezon, Camarines Sur, Albay and Sorsogon. Apart from the PNR in Luzon, the initial portion of the 2,000-kilometer Mindanao Railway is also set: a 105-kilometer segment connecting Tagum, Davao City with Digos. Also slated are the 65-kilometer Subic-Clark Railway, traversing the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway and Subic Freeport Expressway; the 22.8-kilometer Metro Rail Transit 7, from North Avenue, Quezon City to San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan; the 4.14-kilometer Light Rail Transit 2 East Extension from Santolan, Pasig City to Masinag, Antipolo City; and the Unified Common Station, servicing the LRT 1 Extension, MRT 3 and MRT 7.

    The government infrastructure program also plans to implement train-like, dedicated-lane Bus Rapid Transit Systems (BRTs), first popularized in Brazil and now deployed in over 200 cities around the world. In Metro Manila, this will include the recently announced Bonifacio Global City to Ninoy Aquino International Airport line; the BRT Line 1 along España Boulevard and Quezon Avenue; and the 63-station, 48.6-kilometer EDSA Central Corridor line from Monumento to Roxas Boulevard. In Cebu, the BRT Line will cover 33 stations and 16 kilometers, from Bulacao to Ayala Center. Positioned as a low-cost alternative to light rail, BRTs are seen as a solution to traffic brought about by too many vehicles on the road.

    The government has identified development and night rating improvements for Cauayan, Clark International, Bicol, Naga, Puerto Princesa, Bacolod, Bohol International, Dumaguete, Iloilo, Mactan-Cebu International, Cotabato, Davao International, Dipolog, Laguindingan International, Ozamiz and Pagadian.

    It is embarking on a Roll-on-Roll-off System Modernization Program that includes the RoRo Central Spine Alignment.

    Other transport-related projects include the South and Southwest Integrated Transport Systems, and the Cavite Barge Gateway Terminal, all south of Metro Manila.

    For the country’s bridge and road network, the following projects have been identified by the DPWH: NLEX-SLEX Connector Road, BGC-to-Ortigas Road Link, the Santa Monica-Lawton Bridge and Viaduct (Phases 1 and II-A), NAIA Expressway (Phase II), Mandaluyong Main Drainage (Phase II), Pasig-Marikina River Channel Improvement (Phase III), NLEX Harbor Link (Segment 10), Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway, Cavite-Laguna Expressway, Panguil Bay Bridge, Bacolod Economic Highway, Metro Cebu Expressway, Mindanao Logistics Infrastructure Network, Central Luzon Link Expressway, Davao City Bypass Road and Leyte Tide Embankment.

    New Cities
    The New Cities initiative is focused on New Clark City in Pampanga. Led by the BCDA, the former US airbase is now being positioned as a National Government Center, a Philippine Sports City, a Food Processing Terminal and International Food Market and an Agro-Industrial Park.

    The Build! Build! Build! program aims to provide employment, address the high cost of living and beat traffic and transportation problems. An abrupt spike after decades of steady government spending levels on infrastructure, Build Build Build is a determined drive to connect the entire archipelago in as many ways as possible – and to spur travel, trade and economic opportunities outside Metro Manila.

    BY BING KIMPO

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