Thousands of people from Bulacan, Laguna, and Cavite take the bus to Metro Manila daily, braving hours of commute just to get to their schools and workplaces.
Recognizing this, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has vowed to resolve issues hounding the country’s transportation sector within the next 10 years.
DOTC Secretary Emilio Abaya, in a speech at Malacañang last week, quipped, “As Transportation Secretary, I cannot help but talk about trains, planes, and automobiles.”
He underlined, however, that transportation is also about enhancing access to opportunities.
In line with this belief, the DOTC secretary related that the agency aims to drastically improve the country’s transportation infrastructures.
“We envision erasing the backlog in transportation infrastructure over the next five to 10 years, in such a way that the infrastructure we build will meet the country’s needs for the 10 to 20 years that follow,” Abaya said.
To attain this, he said that the DOTC has adopted a fairer and more transparent approach in the implementation of its projects.
“Fairness, openness, and transparency are the hallmarks of bidding and procurement processes under the law. They are the hallmarks of the procurement process under the Aquino administration,” Abaya said.
Abaya delivered the closing remarks in last week’s Daylight Dialogue, “The Good Governance Challenge,” held at the Malacañang Palace and attended by President Benigno Aquino 3rd, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, public and private sector leaders, and other advocates of good governance and development reform.
Out of the 57 projects worth P530 billion under the government’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program, the DOTC is set to undertake 28 major infrastructure projects.
The DOTC already awarded the P1.72-billion Automated Fare Collection System to the AF Consortium of Ayala and MPIC and the P17.5-billion Cebu Mactan International Airport Project to GMR-Megawide Group.
The DOTC is also set to award the P64.9-billon LRT Line 1 Cavite Extension Project to the Ayala-MPIC Group, while the agency is in the process of bidding out the P2.5-billion Integrated Terminal System Southwest Project.
Other PPP projects to be bid out by the DOTC are the Laguindingan Airport operation and maintenance (O&M), New Bohol (Panglao) Airport O&M, Puerto Princesa Airport O&M, Davao Airport O&M, Bacolod Airport, and Iloilo Airport O&M, Motor Vehicle Inspection project, Mass Transit System Loop and the North-South Commuter Rail, which would start from Malolos in Bulacan to Calamba in Laguna.
Other projects include the O&M and extension of the Light Rail Transit Line 2, Davao Sasa Port and the Integrated Terminal System North and South Projects.
Since launching its PPP Program in 2010, the Aquino administration has awarded the contracts to following seven projects to private entities: P2.01-billion Daang Hari-SLEX Link Road; P15.52-billion NAIA Expressway; P16.42-billion PPP for School Infrastructure Phase 1; P8.80-billion PPP for School Infrastructure Phase 2; P5.69-billion Modernization of Philippine Orthopedic Center; P1.72-billion Automatic Fare Collection System; and P17.5-billion Mactan-Cebu International Airport Passenger Terminal Building.
Abaya stressed that major investments in infrastructure would spur the country’s development.
“Imagine if we have a fully-operational freight rail system running across Luzon, allowing agri-based workers to move their produce hundreds of kilometers in a matter of hours, from their farms and fishing grounds, to their consumer markets. Imagine if we have highly-functional roro (roll-on, roll off) routes, which allow inter-island shipment of these goods and cargos at affordable prices, expanding even further their market access,” Abaya said.
The official also said that in the past 15 to 20 years, hardly any major investments were made, partly due to the negative perception of international investors, the lack of political will, and a deeply rooted culture of corruption.
“Ultimately, the result has been the disenfranchisement of the less fortunate. They have not been given a fair shot, an equal opportunity, to enjoy the benefits of a clean government that serves the people, not those in power,” Abaya said.
“We have chosen to put an end to those dark days of our history. We have chosen to pursue what is right, and to disabuse all notions that only different shades of gray will prevail in government,” he added.