By Chino S. Leyco
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board, headed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, approved the Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) and four new big-ticket “flagship” projects during its fifth meeting late Tuesday.
In the absence of President Duterte, NEDA board vice chairman Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia presided over the meeting which brought the NEDA Board total approvals under the Duterte administrations to 35 projects with a total cost of R1.2 trillion, excluding the cost of the Tawi-Tawi bridges.
“The approval and eventual completion of these projects will pave the way for us to achieve our mid-term and long-term goals as a country and a nation,” Pernia said.
The first phase of the MMSP, with an estimated initial investment requirement of P355.588 billion, will run from Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City to Food Terminal, Inc. (FTI) in Taguig and terminate at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Parañaque City.
To be financed through Official Development Assistance from Japan, the project will begin construction early next year, Pernia said.
Once completed, MMSP is the first subway in the country and the longest mass railway transit system.
“The MMSP’s first phase will significantly improve Metro Manila’s transportation system, air quality, and productivity, thereby reducing the P2.4-billion economic loss the country incurs daily due to heavy traffic,” said Pernia, who chaired the meeting in the absence of the President Duterte.
Other project approved by the NEDA Board included the “Improving Growth Corridors in Mindanao Road Sector Project of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).”
The Mindanao project, worth P21.19 billion through a loan from Asian Development Bank (ADB), involves the upgrading of seven roads and the widening of a 40-kilometer road segment with slope protection.
Construction is set to begin late this year and end in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The three Tawi-Tawi bridges under the project was likewise conditionally approved.
Also approved by the Board is the Binondo-Intramuros and Estrella-Pantaleon Bridges Construction Project of the DPWH, worth a total of P5.97 billion.
The Binondo-Intramuros Bridge involves the construction of a new four-lane bridge and viaduct.
Meanwhile, the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge involves the replacement of the existing two-lane bridge with a four-lane bridge and widening of the approach roads.
Construction of the bridges is set to begin fourth quarter this year and end in the fourth quarter of 2020 with grants from the government of China.
Another project included in the list is the Lower Agno River Irrigation System Improvement Project of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA). The project involves the development of a 12,650 ha service area that will benefit 10,372 farmers in seven municipalities in Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, and Tarlac.
The project will cost of R3.5 billion and will be funded by the national government.
Implementation will be from January 2018 to December 2021.
The Infrastructure Preparation and Innovation Facility of the Department of Finance (DOF) was also approved by the NEDA Board.
The DOF “project will directly support the DPWH and DOTr in delivering more effective and innovative infrastructure projects by accelerating the approval process and ensuring the timely, high-quality procurement and implementation of projects.”
Aside from new projects, the NEDA Board also introduced changes to some previously approved projects.
Among these projects is the Philippine National Railway-South Line, which will be the backbone of Southern Luzon and will improve the connectivity of major airports and seaports.
The 72-kilometer PNR-South Line consists of a Commuter Line and Long Haul as well as will have 23 stations from Solis-Hermosa in Manila to Los Baños in Laguna.
The long haul line will run from Los Baños to Bicol, Sorsogon, Batangas. The total project cost for both is P299.4 billion, construction of which will be financed through ODA.
ADB loan validity extension for the Road Improvement and Institutional Development Project by DPWH, which was extended up to December 30, 2019.
The NEDA Board also raised the cost of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit of the DOTr, from P10.61 billion to P16.30 billion due to changes in land valuation following the enactment of the Right of Way Act and foreign exchange rate differentials.
Change of mode of Implementation for the Clark International Airport Expansion of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, to Build-Transfer (BT) scheme under the Republic Act No. 7718 or the Amended Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law for the construction of the project was also approved by the NEDA Board.