DOTr hopes for continuity in transport infra projects under Marcos Jr.

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
DOTr hopes for continuity in transport infra projects under Marcos Jr.
In the 2022 National Expenditure Program submitted to Congress last Monday, the executive branch has sought a total appropriation of P1.18 trillion for public works and transport programs or about a quarter of the proposed P5-trillion national budget for next year.
STAR / Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation is hopeful that the incoming administration will continue work on infrastructure projects in the rail sector under the Duterte administration's flagship "Build, Build, Build" campaign. 

As it currently stands, projects that are still in the works include: 

  • Light Rail Transit-1 Cavite Extension
  • Light Rail Transit-2 West Extension project
  • Mindanao Railway Project
  • Metro Rail Transit-Line 4
  • Metro Manila Subway
  • North-South Commuter Railway
  • and the Subic Clark Railway.

At a press briefing, Transportation Undersecretary TJ Batan said that he remained optimistic about Marcos Jr's earlier statements on the "Build, Build, Build" program, adding that he hoped the new president would make good on these promises during his campaign trail.

"These are viable investments as evaluated by the [National Economic and Development Authority] Board. We give deference to the new administration, their projects, and program priorities but at least what we will try to do is to transition these projects the best we can [so] the decision can be made by the next administration accordingly," he said in mixed Filipino and English.

"[President-elect] Bongbong Marcos has noted that the Build Build Build program is one of those programs that is intended not only to be continued but expanded, so we are hopeful that the current pipeline that we have in the railways sector will be continued by the incoming administration."

In the twilight years of his administration, President Rodrigo Duterte, who earlier promised to solve Metro Manila's traffic woes within six months, chalked the unfinished works up to lack of time.

Marcos, who was proclaimed the next president of the country Wednesday night, has said on the campaign trail that he "will expand and improve" the Build, Build, Build campaign in hopes of boosting the economy post-pandemic. 

"We need to continue the Build, Build, Build program for infrastructure started by President [Rodrigo] Duterte. We are already discussing what must be done to pursue," he was quoted as saying at the Tamasak Arena, Barotac Nuevo on February 24.

He has not yet disclosed who he plans to appoint as his Transportation Secretary. Rumors earlier claimed that he would be giving current transport chief Arthur Tugade a fresh six-year term at the DOTr. His camp eventually denied these rumors, but other rumored names in that viral list have since come true. 

Transport and commuter groups have since come out in protest of the rumored move, saying Tugade's leadership of the transport department only worsened the problems of the sector instead of solving them. 

PNR set to open San Pablo-Lucena line by end-June

At the same press briefing, DOTr officials said that some projects can still be delivered before the administration's turnover date on June 30. Others are slated to be continued by the incoming Marcos administration.

The Philippine National Railways, for instance, disclosed it is set to open its San Pablo-Lucena line on June 30.

"Any time soon we will be ready to operate and extend our service all the way to Lucena, we are looking at the service if we can open the San Pablo to Makati Service and the inter-Lucena service before June 30, 2022," PNR general manager Junn Magno said.

"The proposed operation is part of our strategic objective on the social impact of railways and to bring value and relevance to the service to our underserve clientele, especially in the corridor between San Pablo and Lucena. Traffic has been really bad and they have no means of undertaking mass transport, particularly our underprivileged passengers."



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