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Opinion

Infra

FIRST PERSON - Alex Magno - The Philippine Star

The expected has happened.

Last Tuesday, in quick succession as they always do, Senator Bong Go and President Rodrigo Duterte formally withdrew their candidacies for president and senator, respectively. That brings to a close what is probably the greatest misadventure in our electoral history.

The twin withdrawals simplify the electoral contest. They will likely contribute to the biggest landslide in our electoral history as the preference surveys indicate.

The withdrawals unify the pro-administration forces, a feat Leni Robedo failed to accomplish on the part of the anti-Duterte forces. Manny Pacquiao’s wishful thinking that his flagging candidacy will benefit from Go’s withdrawal is likely misplaced. Local politicians torn between their commitment to the Duterte leadership and their desire to hop on the BBM-Sara bandwagon are now freed from that dilemma.

We should be happy for Rodrigo, the father. He might have won a seat in the Senate, if we go by the recent Publicus survey. But so what?

He once told us, reflecting on his single term in the House, that he was not cut out for legislative work. Sitting in the Senate for another six years would have been cruel and unusual punishment for a man suffering all the aches and pains characteristic of someone his age. His temperament, and his unbridled utterances, would have militated against the job.

His spokesman tells us Duterte, the father, would rather spend the remaining months of his term concentrating on fighting the pandemic. That will be good for the nation. Here the numbers are turning in his favor. Unless an Omicron-induced surge happens, we are well on our way to fully containing this public health crisis.

After June, Duterte will get the rest he deserves, the time to play with his grandchildren as he sits on his laurels. The main legacy of his presidency will be literally indestructible: an infrastructure modernization program unparalleled in its scale.

Before Duterte, the country invested only 2.5 percent of GDP in infrastructure. This is the reason our ports are so congested and the country was uncompetitive in the investments race.

During the Duterte years, this vital economic investment rose to nearly 6 percent of GDP. Our airports have been upgraded, preparing us for the tourism surge that will happen post-pandemic. Our ports are better able to handle the cargo load implied by a rapidly growing economy. We have more road space to better move traffic. We have a much stronger logistics backbone to bring our remote communities to the economic mainstream.

The infrastructure program prepares the country for the future. This will be Rodrigo Duterte’s lasting legacy.

MPIC

Public investment in infrastructure is only half the story. The modernization program has been massively complemented by private sector investments in large-scale projects.

This week, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) celebrated its 15th year. MPIC is one of two conglomerates that decided to invest heavily in helping upgrade our nation’s infrastructure backbone. It has businesses in power distribution and energy innovations, urban water concession, a network of toll roads, a chain of hospitals and heath services.

The investments in infrastructure, says MPIC chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan, “is an essential building block of nation-building.” Indeed, in its 15 years, MPIC has upgraded to world standards the North Luzon Expressway, built the connector road linking the North and South Expressways and completed a new bridge link between Cebu and Mactan.

The Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) has lined up a number of key infra projects ready to break ground. These projects include the P92-billion NLEX-Cavitex Port Expressway Link, the P71-billion C-5 Expressway Project and the P16-billion Harbor Link Port Access Mobility Facility Project.

The company expects to complete the P31-billion new expressway project in Cebu province by next February. The España Boulevard section, representing the first 5 kilometers of the NLEX Connector, will likewise be completed in the first quarter next year. The next 3-kilometer elevated section between España and the PUP in Sta. Mesa will begin construction next year.

Meanwhile, MPCALA Holdings Inc. expects to complete the entire 45-kilometer Cavite-Laguna Expressway by early 2023. This expressway, with a project cost of P56 billion, provides a high-speed road network connecting the increasingly congested provinces of Laguna and Cavite.

While undertaking all these projects, MPIC also set the benchmarks for corporate governance. In the recent 11th Asian Excellence Awards, MPIC collected six recognitions for corporate governance, investor relations and corporate social responsibility.

MPIC also received the highest ‘A’ rating in the Global Listed Infrastructure Organization/Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GLIO/GSRB) ESG Index for Infrastructure for 2021. This index provides financial markets with standardized and validated company data on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG). Only 19 companies worldwide have achieved the highest level ‘A’ rating.

The company’s corporate communication team collected several more awards from respected institutions for effectively integrating corporate social responsibility into its communications network. One of these, the Business Intelligence Group awarded MPIC vice president for corporate communications the PR Executive of the Year award while the department she heads was recognized as the PR Department of the Year.

These awards took note of work of the Metro Pacific Investments Foundation in the company’s overall communications. The Foundation is top-of-mind for protection and conservation of coastal and underwater ecosystems.

MPIC’s successes illustrate how it is possible to meld patriotism, business excellence and corporate social responsibility into one synergistic whole. The company’s effectiveness in mobilizing capital to meet the nation’s infra needs is already producing remarkable results.

INFRASTRUCTURE

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