All systems go for govt’s “Golden Age of Infrastructure”

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) on Thursday, June 29, declared that all systems are in place to usher in the Duterte administration’s envisioned “Golden Age of Infrastructure.”

During a press briefing at Malacañan Palace, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar gave a snapshot of his agency’s flagship projects as part of the pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) briefings spearheaded by the Palace.

The DPWH chief explained the government’s comprehensive plan to build infrastructure, including more roads and bridges throughout the Philippines, with the end goal of decongesting the country and subsequently, promoting inclusive growth and development.

Villar cited that the 2017 budget for the administration’s infrastructure spending, which stands at P428.4 billion, is the highest in the country’s history.

“Now, this amount is equivalent to more or less five percent of our GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Ito na po ang pinakamataas na infrastructure spending sa history ng ating bansa, this is the highest,” he said.

“So, itong five percent ay para makahabol tayo. But we are expecting to increase this year on — every year until we’ve reached our target spending for infrastructure program,” he added.

Villar then assured that all infrastructure projects under the government’s “Build, Build, Build” initiative will be executed at the soonest possible time, with no issue of corruption.

“Para sa amin, hindi naman importante kung sino ang nagsimula. Sa amin lang, importante kung makakatulong sa ating mga kababayan… Basta lahat ng projects ay projects ng mga Pilipino. And it’s our mandate to finish them all. And we’ll continue to finish them all,” he said.

Villar likewise ensured that, whether or not Congress grants the President emergency powers to address the traffic crisis, his department will continue to work hard to meet the targets it set for the completion of all projects.

Among the infrastructure projects that DPWH will implement this year is the construction of two Metro Manila bridges across the Pasig River – the Binondo-Intramuros bridge in Manila and the Estrella-Pantaleon bridge connecting Makati and Mandaluyong – which will be financed by the Chinese government.

“So, this is a fruit of the foreign policy. This is because of our friendship with China and a fruit of our foreign policy and the foreign trips of our President. Nagbigay po sila ng $70-million grant,” Villar said, adding that they are targeting to start it by this year.

DPWH prepares Marawi rehab masterplan

Villar also gave updates on the planned rehabilitation of Marawi City following attacks by the Maute group.

He said his department’s priority at the moment is to upgrade the evacuation centers located throughout Mindanao, as well as the preparation of the master plan for the reconstruction of the war-torn city.

“After this incident, we’ll be ready. Naka-standby po ang lahat ng mga equipment ng DPWH, and currently, we’re coordinating with our ARMM counterpart in order to implement very quickly,” he said.

“The President wants to implement the rehabilitation very quickly. So, we’ve been preparing for this over the past few weeks,” he added.

Villar also guaranteed that the slow implementation of the housing project for the survivors of typhoon ‘Yolanda’ will not be repeated under President Duterte’s watch.

President Duterte approves 11 infra projects

In the same briefing, PCOO Assistant Secretary Marie Banaag disclosed that President Duterte has approved 11 infrastructure projects during the NEDA Board Meeting earlier this week.

These projects are: Mindanao Railway Project (MRP) Phase 1 Tagum worth P35.26 billion through local financing; The Malolos-Clark Railway Project (PNR North 2) worth P211.43 billion through official development assistance (ODA); Cavite Industrial Area Flood Risk Management Project at P9.89 billion through ODA; Clark International Airport (CIA) Expansion Project, which has a remaining investment requirement of P12.55 billion through local financing and operations and maintenance for Public-Private Partnership or PPP;

Education Pathways to Peace in Conflict-Affected Areas of Mindanao at P3.47 billion through ODA financing; The Australia Awards and Alumni Engagement Program – Philippines at P1.19 billion through ODA financing; New Communications, Navigation and Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) Systems Development Project, a 30-Month Loan Validity Extension and Reallocation of Funds at P10.87 billion through ODA financing;

New Configuration of the LRT Line 1 North Extension Project – Common Station / Unified Grand Central Station (North Extension Project) worth P2.8 billion through local financing; Change in Scope, Cost, and Financing Arrangements for the Arterial Road Bypass Project Phase II worth P4.62 billion through ODA financing; Change in Financing of the New Centennial Water Source – Kaliwa Dam Project – P10.86 billion through ODA Financing; and the Project Approval and Change in Financing of Chico River Pump Irrigation Project at P2.7 billion through ODA Financing.###PND