CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY: The national government has allotted more than P100 billion for five infrastructure flagship projects that will make Mindanao the “centerpiece” of President Rodrigo Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” program, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said.

He issued the statement during a briefing with top economists and technocrats in Davao City on the first phase of the P35.26 billion railway project in Mindanao.

Dominguez said the 102-kilometer Mindanao Railway Project, which is expected to be fully operational in 2025, would link the cities of Tagum, Davao and Digos.

The infrastructure program will involve the construction of a railway bridges and irrigation projects as well as the expansion of airports over a seven-year-period in various provinces and cities in Mindanao.

The other projects are the P5.4-billion Malitubog-Maridagao Irrigation Project Phase 2 in North Cotabato and Maguindanao, which is expected to service almost 10,000 hectares of land in 56 conflict-affected areas; P4.86-billion Panguil Bay Bridge project that will connect Tangub City in Misamis Occidental and Tubod, Lanao del Norte, for completion in 2021 and expansion and improvement projects of the Davao International Airport and Laguindingan Airport worth P 40.57-billion and P14.6-billion, respectively.

The projects in Mindanao are among the P8 trillion-worth of infrastructure projects that the government aims to implement over the next five years, Dominguez said.

He said the projects will stimulate economic growth in the short term and support the development of a competitive economy over the longer term.

Dominguez said the government is also aggressively financing new infrastructure projects for communities ravaged by calamities and war like Marawi City.

“Under the government’s Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Recovery and Rehabilitation Plan, all government agencies are now involved in the rehabilitation of Marawi City,” he said.

Dominguez explained that the goal of the Duterte administration’s development efforts for Mindanao and the rest of the country is to bring down poverty incidence to 14 percent by 2022.

The government aims to achieve its goal by building on the reforms implemented over the years to put the country’s economy in order while instituting new ones, such as tax reform to ensure reliable revenue flows for the government’s increased spending on modern infrastructure and expanded social services, he said.

He said the economy is expected to grow by 7 percent or better this year, with the infrastructure modernization program providing the strong stimulus to enable the government to attain its economic target.

A survey conducted by the US News and World Report in partnership with the Wharton School of Business, which covered 6,000 business decision makers, has ranked the Philippines as the first among the best countries to invest today.