By Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo
President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang witnessed the signing of 14 bilateral agreements on November 15 following an expanded bilateral meeting between the two countries. Included was an exchange of letters on the Binondo-Intramuros and Pantaleon-Estrella Bridge Project — two bridges which will be part of the Metro Manila Logistics Infrastructure Network, Department of Public Works and Highways traffic decongestion masterplan.
A day after the project’s ceremonial launching in Malacañang — DPWH Secretary Mark Villar and Ministry of Commerce Deputy Director General Zeng Hua signed the agreement on the two bridges, which is expected to benefit 1.3 million passengers daily.
The Binondo-Intramuros Bridge is a P4.607-billion-steel bow-string arch bridge, spanning 807 meters, with intersecting reclining arches connecting Intramuros (at Solana Street and Riverside Drive) and Binondo (at San Fernando Street) while the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge is a P1.367-billion 4-lane bridge which is expected to increase road network capacity of Estrella St. in Makati and Barangka Drive in Mandaluyong.
The projects are set to begin next year and will be completed in 2021. They will be part of the Metro Manila Logistics Infrastructure Network, a 12-bridge network crossing Pasig River, Marikina River, and Manggahan Floodway, which aims to effectively decongest major thoroughfares in Metro Manila, particularly Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA).
Department of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with China Vice Commerce Minister and International Trade Representative Fu Ziying to “jointly identify and study” an indicative list consisting of the second basket of key infrastructure cooperation projects for possible Chinese financing.
Among the proposed projects under this second basket are the development of the Davao City Expressway, a 23.3-km road network which will improve mobility in Davao City and provide access to Sta. Ana Port, and the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Inter-Island Bridge Project, a 19.2-km bridge project which would link the three island provinces in Visayas.
According to the Department of Finance, China has committed a combined $7.34 billion in soft loans and grants to the Philippines for the implementation of 10 big-ticket projects, the construction of two bridges in Metro Manila and two drug rehabilitation facilities in Mindanao, and assistance in the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City in Mindanao.
The triumph of the Duterte Diplomacy is evident in the strong and robust economic performance of the Philippines, one of the best performing economies in Asia. It is not at all surprising when Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia announced Philippines’ impressive Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 6.9% in the 3rd quarter of this year — the second highest in Asia.