President Rodrigo Duterte, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar and Metro Pacific Tollways (MPTC) chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan lead the ceremonies. With them in photo are Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
A link to a better future
MIKE ABOUT TOWN - Mike Toledo (The Philippine Star) - March 12, 2019 - 12:00am

A plethora of societal problems are more often than not linked to the state of the country’s  infrastructure.

In the Philippines, it has been determined that poverty and unemployment are also caused by poor infrastructure.

Traffic congestion alone in Metro Manila, due to a lack of proper roadways and highways, among others, cost the country billions in losses, which could grow even more in the next 10 years or so.

Which is the reason why President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, upon assumption of office, prioritized infrastructure as part of his socio-economic agenda and initiated the “Build, Build, Build” Program to accelerate infrastructure spending. Public spending on infrastructure has been targeted to reach P8 to P9 trillion at the end of President Duterte’s term.

President Duterte with (from left) NLEX Corp. SVP for communication and stakeholder management Romulo Quimbo Jr., CFO Maria Theresa Wells and VP for project management Nemesio Castillo, the author, NLEX Corp. COO Raul Ignacio, Metro Pacific Investments Corp. president and CEO Jose Ma. Lim, MPTC president and CEO Rodrigo Franco, Maynilad Water Services Inc. president and CEO Ramoncito Fernandez, NLEX Corp. president and GM Luigi Bautista, VP for project management Fernando Autor, VP for legal services Joseph Marigomen and MPTC CFO Christopher Lizo.

The undertaking is not government’s alone as it needs the support of the private sector. This is where the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) comes in.

According to the PPP Center, a Public-Private Partnership “can be broadly defined as a contractual agreement between the government and a private firm targeted towards financing, designing, implementing and operating infrastructure facilities and services that were traditionally provided by the public sector. It embodies optimal risk allocation between the parties —minimizing cost while realizing project developmental objectives. Thus, the project is to be structured in such a way that the private sector gets a reasonable rate of return on its investment.”

The PPP builds on the strong bayanihan spirit of Filipinos, of coming together to assist, to support — to build.

The MVP Group of Companies under the helm of chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan has long committed to be a partner of government in infrastructure. This was among the other partnerships the group has entered into with this administration.

(Seated, from left) Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Mayor Estrada, Manuel V. Pangilinan and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea; (standing) Rod Franco, the author and Luigi Bautista.

Two significant breakthroughs happened recently where infrastructure development was concerned: the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Harbor Link Segment 10 was officially opened and ground was broken for work to start on the NLEX Connector Road. These were both held in ceremonies attended no less than by President Duterte.

Both are PPP projects between government, through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and the MVP Group of Companies, through Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) under its subsidiaries Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) and the NLEX Corp.

The NLEX Connector Road groundbreaking was held two months ahead of its new target date of construction.

In attendance at the inauguration and groundbreaking ceremonies were Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, as well as Budget Secretary and incoming BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno.

President Duterte with (from left) Secretary Pernia, Executive Secretary Medialdea, Secretary Villar, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade and Secretary Diokno.

Also gracing the event were Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, Caloocan City Mayor Oscar Malapitan, Navotas City Mayor John Rey Tiangco and Rep. Toby Tiangco, MVP, MPIC president and CEO Jose Ma. Lim, MPTC president and CEO Rodrigo Franco, NLEX Corp. president and CEO Jose Luigi Bautista, former MPTC president and now Maynilad CEO Ramoncito Fernandez and myself, who hosted the ceremonies.

The NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10 is a 5.65-kilometer elevated toll road or expressway traversing the NLEX from the MacArthur Highway in Karuhatan, Valenzuela City, passing through Malabon City and up to C-3 Road in Caloocan. It is a P15.55-billion project that is expected to reduce Metro Manila bottlenecks and benefit an initial 30,000 vehicles a day.

(From left) Malabon City Rep. Ricky Sandoval, Navotas City Mayor John Rey Tiangco, Mayor Estrada, Navotas City Rep. Toby Tiangco and Caloocan City Mayor Oca Malapitan.

The NLEX Connector Road, meanwhile, is an eight-kilometer elevated expressway that will pass over the right-of-way of the Philippine National Railways. The project costs P23.3 billion and starts at the junction of the NLEX Segment 10 at the C-3 Road and 5th Avenue junction in Caloocan and will connect to the South Luzon Expressway through the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 Project in Manila. Once completed in the last quarter of 2020, the connector road is expected to benefit an initial 35,000 vehicles a day.

Both projects will improve accessibility and connectivity between the key areas of Metro Manila and the northern and southern provinces of Luzon.

Secretary Villar has done a good work in ensuring that much-needed infrastructure projects are completed either on or ahead of schedule, to bring “real change” to the lives of the Filipino people. This is likewise matched by the resolve of Secretary Tugade to improve the state of our public transportation.

The North Luzon Expressway Harbor Link Segment 10.

Of course, one cannot discount the fine sifting of project proposals done by NEDA with Secretary Pernia at the helm and the fine-tuning of budget allocations by the DBM under Secretary Diokno, who will be making the shift from fiscal policy to monetary policy as the new BSP governor.

This is but another example of government and the private sector working together to ensure the progress of the nation. It is only this that will carry us through, that will see us through to a better future.

President Duterte at the launching and groundbreaking ceremonies said it best: “Now, more than ever, we are called to demonstrate our bayanihan spirit and strong sense of nationhood. Let us remain steadfast as we work together in forging a stronger and more progressive future for all Filipinos.”

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