DOF: Mindanao corners 5 major infra projects

Ace June Rell S. Perez

FINANCE Secretary Carlos Dominguez said Mindanao will be the centerpiece of the Philippines’ economic development as it corners major infrastructure projects under the administration's “Build Build Build” program.

During the Philippine Economic Briefing (PEB) on Friday, March 9, at the SMX Convention Center in Lanang, Davao City, Dominguez said at least five of the government’s flagship infra projects already approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Board are in Mindanao.

These are the P5.4-billion Malitubog-Maridagao Irrigation Project Phase 2 in North Cotabato and Maguindanao, which is expected to service almost 10,000 hectares of land in 56 conflict-affected areas; P4.86-billion Panguil Bay Bridge project that will connect Tangub City in Misamis Occidental and Tubod, Lanao del Norte, for completion in 2021; expansion and improvement projects in Davao International Airport and Laguindingan Airport worth P40.57 billion and P14.6 billion, respectively, for completion in 2025; and 102-kilometer Mindanao Railway Project Phase 1, Segment 1 worth P35.26 billion that will connect Tagum, Davao City and Digos.

Asian Development Bank (ADB) Secretary Woochong Um, for his part, said economic development will continue especially with the Duterte administration.

“Everyone wants all these infra projects done, they are serious about everything. But we would like to explain to the people that these developments take time, we hope that people will be patient,” Um said.

Um underscored that ADB projects are designed for long term even beyond this administration.

At present, ADB’s country strategy to sustain economic growth and making it inclusive are centered in three pillars: infrastructure, social development and local economic development.

For this year, Philippines will be hosting the 51st Asian Development Bank annual meeting in May in Manila. Around 3,000 delegates composed of representatives from the government, private sector and civil society are expected to attend the 51st meeting with the theme “Linking People and Economies for Inclusive Development.”

Meanwhile, ADB is working closely with the City Government of Davao and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for the implementation of the High Priority Bus System (HPBS), part of the city’s planned transport modernization project.

ADB Country Director Kelly Bird, in an exclusive interview with Sun Star Davao, said they are presently in the design stage of the big-ticket infra project.

“We are providing technical support for this project. We are still working with DOTr and the local government of Davao to look at what’s the best way to implement such modernization. We are still going through the technicalities of it,” he said.

The project, Bird said, is seen to be approved within the next 12 months.

He added that before implementing HPBS, as emphasized by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, efficient public transportation system, good services to passengers and good livelihood for drivers will be put in place.

Duterte-Carpio, in her State of the City Address (Soca), stated the project will help the city shift from outdated and expensive public utility jeepneys to a more convenient, cleaner, and faster mode of transportation.

The mayor is optimistic that the ADB project will pave way to a safer cleaner mass transport system that will require less travel time and less traffic congestion for the riding public.

The project’s initial implementation phase will start by 2019 and is expected to go full-swing by 2020 or 2021.

With the ADB-supported project, it will include construction of bus stops, terminals and bus depots; acquisition of road-right-of-way; and improving of intersections.

“After it will be approved, there should be more stakeholder consultations,” Bird said. (ASP)