Shift in strategy to speed up infra projects — DOTr

Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) - April 15, 2018 - 12:00am

CLARK FREEPORT ZONE  , Philippines  — The government agencies leading massive airport, railway and road projects have vowed to hasten the completion of the crucial infrastructure buildup.

Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade  said the agency is currently evaluating proposals for the establishment of international airports outside Manila as the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is nearing the end of its lifespan.

He told participants of the second leg of the Philippine Economic Briefing organized by the Investor Relations Office (IRO) the proposed airports in Bulacan and Sangley in Cavite are welcome developments as NAIA “will not last forever.”

“NAIA will not last forever because it is presently situated in a place which is overly congested, and technology and airline travel have improved. My fear is that the lifespan of NAIA would just be eight or 10 years,” he said.

 Tugade said the Department of Transportation would entertain unsolicited proposals for the government’s massive infrastructure build up on a “first come, first serve” basis.

 “I will entertain them. First come, first serve, because if you develop runways in Bulacan and Sangley, you will have added capacity of runways,” Tugade said.

 Diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) has already received the green light from the National Economic and Development Authority’s Investment Coordination Council (NEDA-ICC) for its proposed P700-billion airport project in Bulacan.

SMC’s proposed 1,168-hectare airport and a 2,500 city complex, however, is still subject to the approval of the Cabinet-level NEDA Board headed by President Duterte and a Swiss challenge from other interested parties.

On the other hand, the Tieng-led ARRC has submitted a new unsolicited proposal to reclaim some 2,500 hectares of land in new Sangley point in Cavite which will be developed into a regional airport hub named Philippine Sangley International Airport.

 In 2016, ARRC and Belle Corp. of retail and banking magnate Henry Sy submitted a $50 billion proposal to build an international airport and seaport project in the former US naval base in Cavite.

Tugade said the government envisions the establishment of an economic development zone in NAIA anchored on real estate development projects.

A superconsortium composed of the country’s biggest conglomerates – MVP Group, LT Group Inc., Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Filinvest Group, JG Summit Holdings, Ayala Corp., Alliance Global of taipan Andrew Tan has committed P350 billion ($6.7 billion) to rehabilitate the 70-year old NAIA.

On the other hand, Megawide Construction Corp. and its Indian partner GMR made a counter offer to spend P160 billion ($3 billion) to decongest and expand NAIA.

Tugade said NAIA is now the 10th most improved airport in the world from being the worst airport, while eight airports in the country – NAIA, Iloilo, Bacolod, Davao, Laguindingan, Kalibo, Tacloban, and Puerto Princesa received one-star rating for on-time performance.

 He said the government has also installed 10 radars covering 100 percent of the Philippine airspace from only three, while the communications navigation surveillance/ air traffic management system was inaugurated last Jan. 16.

Tugade said the administration also plans to roll out 1,900 kilometers of railways by 2022.  These include PNR Bicol, PNR Clark, and the Metro Manila Subway.

Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar said the Duterte administration is undertaking the boldest and most ambitious infrastructure program in history with 5.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) allocated for infrastructure projects under his first year versus the 2.5 percent of GDP average under the past six administrations in 50 years.

 Villar said the “Golden Age of Infrastructure” involves P8 trillion worth of  projects between 2017 and 2022.

For this year alone, Villar said the DPWH is spending P148 billion for traffic decongestion, P101.5 billion for integrated and seamless transport system, P49.8 billion for convergence and rural road development, and P165 billion for livable, sustainable and resilient communities.

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