Build, Build, Build is the centerpiece program of President Rodrigo R. Duterte that ushers in the “Golden age of infrastructure” in the Philippines that has generated jobs and economic activities particularly in areas outside Metro Manila.
Midway through President Duterte’s term, his ambitious P8 trillion infrastructure plan has already built roads, bridges, classrooms, flood control facilities, among others that improved the lives of many Filipinos.
Under the “Build, Build, Build” program, the government’s infrastructure spending, as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP), is expected to grow to 7-7.5 percent by 2022 from a historic high of 5.1 percent of GDP in 2018.
Historically, the government’s infrastructure spending-to-GDP ratio only averaged at 2.6 percent over the past six administration. The Duterte administration seeks to end this decades-long neglect in infrastructure investment.
When the current administration took office in 2016, the government immediately set the highest budget allocation for infrastructure in Philippine history to sustain and even accelerate the country’s growth and, most importantly, make Filipinos lives more comfortable.
As an archipelago of over 7,000 islands, the Philippines requires efficient and modern transport infrastructure, logistics facilities and power infrastructure to accelerate and sustain its socioeconomic growth, improve its global competitiveness, and promote physical integration.
Build, Build, Build is composed of more than 20,000 infrastructure projects nationwide, involving roads, highways, farm-to-market roads, airports, seaports, terminals, evacuation centers, lighthouses, hospitals, schools, government centers, among others.
Because of Build, Build, Build, the construction sector experienced a 12.7 percent growth since 2016, while its number of workers has ballooned to 4.2 million this year from 3.5 million in April 2017, accounting for 51.9 percent of the industry segment’s total employment.
To date, 9,845 kilometers of various roads have already been completed in Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Tarlac, Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Davao City, Bulacan, Oriental Mindoro, Cebu, Misamis Occidental, Negros Oriental, and Palawan.
The government also built 2,709 bridges in Marikina, Isabela, La Union, Misamis Oriental, Occidental Mindoro, Pampanga, and Nueva Viscaya.
To address the gap in physical facilities required for elementary and secondary schools nationwide, the government has finished 71,803 classrooms across the country that benefited more than 3.2 million students.
A total of 4,536 flood mitigation structures were also completed since June 2016 to expand protected flood-prone areas across the country.
These flood control facilities include the pumping stations at Barangays Wawang Polo and Coloong, Flood Risk Management Projects for the Cagayan and Tagoloan Rivers, the Leyte Tide Embankment Project and the Pasig Marikina River Flood Control Project.
Also, 82 evacuation centers in 52 provinces were built by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in 52 provinces and 55 more are underway. Among the recently completed projects are evacuation centers in Gumaca, Quezon Province; Pili, Camarines Sur; and in Malinao, Albay.
For the maritime sector, the government has completed more than 300 commercial and social/tourism port projects from 2016 to July this year, including the country’s biggest Passenger Terminal Building at the Port of Cagayan de Oro.
The Duterte administration also finished the rehabilitation of Opol Port in Misamis Oriental, Sasa Port in Davao, Butuan Port in Agusan Del Norte, Tubigon Port in Bohol, Limasawa Port in Southern Leyte, and General Santos (Makar Wharf).
Six railway projects are also under construction, namely: LRT-1 Cavite Extension; LRT-2 East Extension; MRT-7; the Common Station; Philippine National Railways (PNR) Clark Phase 1; and the Metro Manila Subway. The MRT-3 is undergoing extensive rehabilitation.
For 2020, additional railway projects are also set to be undertaken, including the PNR Clark Phase 2; PNR Calamba; PNR Bicol; Mindanao Railway; Subic-Clark Railway; and LRT-2 West Extension.
Once all railway projects are completed, the number of stations across all railway systems is targeted to increase to 169 from 59, the number of trains to 1,425 from 221, and daily ridership to 3.26 million from 1.02 million
Under airports and aviation, 119 air gateways have been constructed and rehabilitated since June 2016 while 166 more projects are ongoing.
Among those recently completed are the Bohol-Panglao International Airport; Mactan-Cebu International Airport; Sangley Airport in Cavite; Lal-lo International Airport; and Puerto Princesa International Airport.
International airports in Davao, General Santos, Zamboanga, Iloilo, Kalibo, and Laoag are also undergoing improvements.
Infrastructure developments for the domestic airports of Virac, Marinduque, Tuguegarao, San Vicente, and Busuanga in Luzon; Maasin, Tacloban, and Catarman in the Visayas; and Ipil, Camiguin, and Siargao in Mindanao, have also been accomplished.
Aside from developing the nation’s airports, major programs and initiatives have been launched to further uplift aviation and airports services, like the new Communications, Navigation, Surveillance/Air Traffic Management System.
The Department of Transportation is also working on the night-rating of 15 more commercial airports to further ease decongestion in major gateways with 23 out of 42 commercial airports having been night-rated.
Vince Dizon, Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) president and chief executive officer said the Duterte administration is determined to make the life of every Filipino more comfortable through better infrastructure that serves the people.
“At the end of the day, this is not just about building an airport or building a port, or building a bridge,” said Dizon, who is also the Presidential Adviser for Flagship Projects.
“It’s to make the lives, especially the daily lives – ‘yung pang araw-araw na pamumuhay ng ating mga kababayan eh mapabuti naman natin,” he added.
Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, for his part, said that they are seriously undertaking the ambitious Build, Build, Build program to deliver the badly needed infrastructure required by all Filipinos.
“We have many projects that are up for completion. Definitely, in the next year, we have a good lineup of infrastructure projects for inauguration. So by 2020, 2021, there will be inaugurations almost every month,” Villar said.
“The plan is by the second half of the administration, you’ll be able to see the influx of all these major infrastructure, then before this administration’s term ends you will feel that Golden Age (of Infrastructure) — that I guarantee,” he assured.
This article was published in Manila Bulletin on December 25, 2019.
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