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P-Noy OKs P4-B Manila-Quezon City bus rapid transit system

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino has approved the installation of a P4.78-billion bus rapid transit (BRT) system between Manila and Quezon City.

The BRT project is one of four big-ticket infrastructure projects amounting to more than P40 billion that were approved during the National Economic and Development Authority Board meeting in Malacañang yesterday.

The approved projects include the Manila-Quezon Avenue Bus Rapid Transit Project which involves the provision of a 12.3-kilometer segregated bus rapid transit from Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City to the Manila City Hall; the Integrated Marine Environment Monitoring System Phase II; Harnessing Agribusiness Opportunities through Robust and Vibrant Entrepreneurship Supportive of Peaceful Transformation (Harvest), and the North Luzon Expressway-South Luzon Expressway Connector Road.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Manila-Quezon Avenue BRT Project was estimated at P4.78 billion to be implemented with the World Bank and Agence Francoise de Développement (AFD), the official development assistance organization of France. The Department of Finance was authorized to negotiate the terms of the loan.

“The concept is they are dedicated lanes for public buses in the middle section of the main road, in this case Quezon Avenue all the way up to Manila City Hall,” Coloma said.

Also approved was the Integrated Marine Environment Monitoring System Phase II involving the improvement and expansion particularly of the Vessel Monitoring System, an integration of various databases including fishing vessel registry, ocean or weather data, stock assessment data, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing records, among others.

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This project aims to set up an integrated operational fisheries and marine environment monitoring center in the Philippines that is inter-regional and connected with the main center, Coloma said.

Coloma said the project was required by the European Union because there were EU countries importing significant amounts of fishery products from the Philippines.

“So now we are compliant with the EU requirements. It is estimated that we export some $300 million worth of fishery products to Europe every year. So that is the significance of this project,” Coloma said.

The project involves a cost of P1.675 billion, which will be funded through a loan from the French government, with the DOF also authorized to negotiate the terms of the loan.

The Harvest project will finance eligible investments of large agribusiness enterprises, cooperatives, farmers’ organizations and micro-small and medium enterprises in support of crop production, poultry and livestock, fish production, fishery development and agri-services supportive of economic activity, initially focusing on the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or Bangsamoro region.

“So this is part of what we call ‘peace dividends.’ The project has two components: credit assistance of up to P11.14 billion for agribusiness activities, which will be through the Land Bank of the Philippines as main financial institution, and this is expected to generate additional employment of more than 20,000 persons during project implementation,” Coloma said.

The total project cost is P11.426 billion and funding will be sourced from loans from Japan International Cooperation Agency and the WB.

The NEDA Board, chaired by Aquino, also approved the results of the negotiations between the Department of Public Works and Highways and the project proponent of the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road Project, Coloma said.

Coloma said these negotiations were pursuant to Section 10-10.8 of the Build-Operate-Transfer Law’s implementing rules and regulations.

The NLEX-SLEX Connector Road, a Public-Private Partnership project, involves the construction of an eight-kilometer four-lane toll road that will link the existing NLEX and SLEX. The project cost is P23.2 billion.

“This is separate from the Manila Skyway 3 project. This project was approved by the NEDA Board in November 2012. The DPWH has completed its negotiations with the original proponent, Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. So the NEDA Board gave its approval to the results of the negotiation so that they can proceed with the Swiss challenge. Under the BOT Law, if it is an unsolicited proposal, it is subject to Swiss challenge,” Coloma said.

Coloma said the NEDA Board also approved the request for an additional P20 million for the right of way and resettlement cost for the regional prison facilities through PPP project of the Department of Justice.

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