EDITORIAL - 8th out of 10
(The Philippine Star) - October 26, 2015 - 10:00am

There are so many infrastructure projects being undertaken all over the country that supplies of cement, steel and even skilled workers are running out. This was President Aquino’s response to a report that the country is ranked a poor eighth among the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – ahead only of Vietnam and Myanmar – in terms of quality of infrastructure.

The ranking, reportedly based on a World Economic Forum study, was contained in an information pack distributed at a forum held recently in South Korea on ASEAN connectivity. The forum focused on the quality of infrastructure for transport, water, energy and information and communications technology in ASEAN states.

Any person living in the Philippines will agree that in those areas, infrastructure is woefully inadequate. Dismissing the assessment is as unfortunate as Cabinet members’ comments that Metro Manila’s traffic jams are a sign of progress and not “fatal.” Even in terms of roads, which the President cited in a speech yesterday, while new roads have been built in the countryside, it’s a different story in Metro Manila, where the daily traffic nightmare is testament to the inadequacy of the road network.

Some quarters may question the country’s overall ranking behind ASEAN latecomers Cambodia and Laos, but few people will dispute that the Philippines has been left behind by many of its Southeast Asian neighbors in terms of airports, sea ports, railways and other forms of mass transportation. Light railway services even deteriorated in the past five years, while the roll-on, roll-off inter-island project launched during the Arroyo administration became bogged down in endless reviews by transport officials.

Millions of Filipinos still lack access to safe water and full telecommunications services. As for energy, the lack of generation capacity especially in Mindanao combined with other problems have led to unreliable electricity supply and Asia’s highest power costs – a major disincentive to manufacturing and other investments.

Commenting on the reported ranking in ASEAN, the President reportedly asked for specifics on what other needed infrastructure projects his administration had not yet undertaken. If the President has to ask that question, the inadequacy is doomed to persist.

 

ACIRC ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS CAMBODIA AND LAOS IF THE PRESIDENT METRO MANILA MILLIONS OF FILIPINOS PRESIDENT AQUINO SOUTH KOREA SOUTHEAST ASIAN VIETNAM AND MYANMAR WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM
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