Philippines Moving Forward with Massive Road Infrastructure Projects
In an effort to improve the Philippines’ traffic situation and enhance agriculture and tourism at the same time, President Rodrigo Duterte recently approved seven massive infrastructure projects worth an estimated P270 billion in total. The projects include the construction of a major road network, new bridges, and the creation and rehabilitation of key government facilities.
The list of the approved projects are:
- The South Line of the North-South Railway Project (NSRP)
- The New Nayong Pilipino at the Entertainment City
- The New Cebu International Port
- Expansion of the Philippine Rural Development Project
- Scaling-Up of the Second Cordillera Highlands Agricultural Resources Management Project
- Widening and improvement of the General Luis Road (Quezon City to Valenzuela City) Project
- The Malitubog-Maridagao Irrigation Project Stage 2
Along with these new approvals, nine other infrastructure projects have also been approved recently.
Philippine-China Memoranda of Understanding
The signing off was done at the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) meeting held in Malacañang on November 14, 2016. During the meeting, the President also endorsed the new guidelines that the government plans to use when screening and processing investment projects to be funded by China in the country. The Philippines recently partnered with some public and private Chinese agencies and signed a Memoranda of Understanding for an infrastructure program designed to:
- Improve mobility and development in different regions of the country, with a huge focus on Mindanao
- Enhance passenger connectivity and cargo handling
- Provide solutions to Metro Manila’s worsening traffic situation
- Address current transportation issues
Following the endorsement of the guidelines, the country’s top economic officials including Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, met with officials of the National Development and Reform Commission of China (NDRC), which is their principal planning and strategy agency. The meeting signals the agreement between the two countries to proceed with the projects, and move ahead with the creation of structures of coordination between parties
“I think this afternoon we have laid the ground work on moving ahead and we should continue this dialogue with specific projects in mind,” Dominguez said when he met with the press during the meeting.
China in full support
NDRC Deputy Chairman Ning Jizhe expressed China’s full support for President Duterte’s 10-point socio-economic agenda, as well as their willingness to invest in diverse industries including technology, tourism, and energy. “We have been informed of the 10-point economic agenda. On our side we have the One-Road One-Belt Initiative by President Xi Jinping and we hope that both sides can encourage these plans and encourage Chinese business to invest in the Philippines,” Ning said at the meeting.
Ning said that part of their visit was to iron out the details of the MOUs signed between the two countries when President Duterte conducted a state visit to China last October 18 to 21, upon the invitation of Chinese president Xi Jinping. NEDA, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) were the three local government agencies that signed off on the MOUs on behalf of the Philippines. Dominguez signed three MOUs during the visit:
- The Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation RMB Yuan 100 million grant that allows the country to beef up its projects for “anti-illegal drugs and law enforcement security cooperation.”
- The MOU Supporting the Conduct of Feasibility Studies for Major Projects, in which China will provide financing support to the Philippines in undertaking feasibility studies for big-ticket projects in infrastructure, agriculture and rural development.
- The MOU for Financing Cooperation with the Export-Import Bank of China (China EXIM), which would allow the Philippines to tap China EXIM funds for its major projects through the authorized approval processes.
“We want to do the best both for the Filipino people and the Chinese taxpayers. We want to make sure that the benefits go to the people who need it and the resources of the Chinese people, through the Chinese government, being made available to us will not be wasted,” Dominguez added.
Both the Philippines’ NEDA and China’s NDRC agreed to convene again sometime next year to discuss projects for funding, which Dominguez plans to hasten by furnishing a list of possible projects and submitting them on December 1.
Brace for inconveniences
In preparation for what the government calls “the dawn of infrastructure ‘golden age’,” officials are appealing to the public to practice utmost patience for the inevitable inconveniences that these major projects will bring about.
“Ang change na mangyayari muna would be some inconvenience, some passion, but then it’s usually passion before resurrection,” National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director general and Socio-economic planning secretary Ernesto Pernia said in a Palace press briefing.
“Before the country can really rise up and be a world-class country, there’ll be some inconvenience because you know when there’s construction going on, road widening project for example or railway project, talagang ano maaabala ‘yung mga tao na mag-commute,” he added.