By Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo
The “Build, Build, Build” program is the Duterte administration’s medium-term goal to increase infrastructure spending from 5.4 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017, to 7.3 percent by the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term in 2022. This is higher than the 2.4 percent average recorded by the past six administrations in the last five decades — and the highest budget allocation for infrastructure in Philippine history.
To effectively usher in the Golden Age of Infrastructure, the Philippine government will spend around R8.4 trillion (around US$160-200 billion) in an infrastructure plan consistent with the Master Plan on Asean Connectivity, which aims to facilitate flow of capital, goods, and people nationwide in every region in the country. For the first time, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao are on an equal footing as far as the budget is concerned.
Included in the “Build Build Build” Program is the Luzon Spine Expressway Network — a 1,040-km expressway network which would connect the northern and southernmost parts of Luzon. By building a total of 18 expressways with a total road length of 655 km, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar aims to complement the existing expressway network spanning 385 km. Once completed, the travel time from Metro Manila to San Fernando, La Union will be reduced from six hours and 55 minutes to three hours and 10 minutes. Travel time from La Union to Bicol will be reduced from 19 hours and 40 minutes to eight hours and 15 minutes. The first project expected to be completed this year under the network is the NLEX Harbor Link Project Segment 10, a 5.58-km, 6-lane elevated expressway connecting MacArthur Highway in Valenzuela City and C-3 in Caloocan City, which is expected to shorten travel time from Manila to Quezon City to just about 11 minutes.
In addition to the 26 existing bridges crossing Pasig River, Marikina River, and Manggahan Floodway, which cater to about 1.3 million vehicles daily, Villar sought the construction of 12 new bridges, clustered as the Metro Manila Logistics Improvement Network, which aims to provide alternative linkages between major thoroughfares and increase the number of usable roadways that would decongest traffic in Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) and other major roads in Metro Manila. Included in the network is the 961-meter Bonifacio Global City-Ortigas Center Link Road Project, which aims to shorten travel time from Taguig to Pasig to only about 12 minutes.
Also part of the “Build Build Build” program is the Mindanao Growth Corridors project, a R25.257-billion infrastructure plan, which involves the construction of eight roads in Zamboanga Peninsula with total length of 277.23 kilometers and additional three bridges in the province of Tawi-Tawi.
Northern Mindanao, Davao, Soccksargen, and Caraga regions will also see the realization of the Mindanao Road Development Network — a 2,567-km intermodal logistics network, which aims to address the constraints caused by high cost of transport and inadequate logistics infrastructure.
Apart from this, DPWH is developing the Bangsamoro Road Network Development Project, a masterplan involving the improvement and construction of a 200-km road network covering 11 access roads and bridges connecting ARMM and other regions in Mindanao.
Big-ticket projects under the “Build Build Build” program also include:
- The Davao City Bypass, a 44.6-km by-pass road with a 2.28 km tunnel, which is expected to reduce travel time from Digos to Panabo by about 50% — from 1 hour and 44 minutes (via Pan-Philippine Highway) to only 49 minutes (via Davao By-Pass Road).
- The New Bacolod Economic Highway, a 21.5-km road project traversing the interior area of Bacolod City, which is expected to reduce travel time from the capital to the airport by about 65% — from 45 minutes to only about 15 minutes.
- The Panguil Bay Bridge, a 3.48-km bridge connecting Tangub City, Misamis Occidental, and Tubod, Lanao del Norte, which is expected to shorten travel time between the two provinces from 2.5 hours to only 10 minutes
- The Metro Cebu Expressway, a 73.75-km highway with a 2-km tunnel, which is expected to reduce travel time from Danao City to Naga City by over 50% percent
- The Leyte Tide Embankment Project, a 27.3-km project from Brgy. Diit in Tacloban City to Brgy. Ambao in Tanauan, Leyte, which is expected to protect at least 33,185 houses from the destructive effects of storm surges.