Under the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar noted that the agency has built a total of 3,945 km of roads.
DPWH has widened 1,908 km of roads, built 328 kilometer of bypasses and diversion roads, 393 kilometers of missing gaps connecting national roads, and 1,316 km of access roads leading to airports, seaports/Ro-Ro ports, and tourist destinations.
The biggest number of diversion roads built is in Region XIII. 298 km of road have been widened in Region IV-A, 215 km in Region II, and 170.11 km in Region X.
Apart from this, a total of 2,423 bridges have been constructed, rehabilitated, and strengthened.
DPWH has widened a total of 511 bridges, replaced 204 bridges, and built 127 new bridges. It has also rehabilitated 939 bridges and strengthened 642 bridges.
Luzon Spine Expressway Network
Villar also noted that by 2022 — the Duterte Administration would have constructed the Luzon Spine Expressway Network – a network of high standard highways with a total length of 834.72 km, which is about twice the 382 km of existing expressway.
Once the Luzon Spine Expressway is completed, travel time from Metro Manila to San Fernando, La Union, will be reduced from 6 hours and 55 minutes to 3 hours and 10 minutes. Moreover, travel time from Ilocos to Bicol will be reduced from 19 hours and 40 minutes to 8 hours and 15 minutes.
Since the start of the Duterte administration, several sections of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway, the Arterial Plaridel Bypass Project, the Laguna Lake Expressway, and the Radial Road 10 have been opened.
Within the year, DPWH expects to open the NLEX Harbor Link Project, a 5.58 km, six-lane elevated expressway, which will connect McArthur Highway and C3 and reduce travel time from Quezon City to Manila to only 10 minutes.
PHL eyeing more investments in UK
At the Philippine Economic Briefing held in London, Department of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III noted that the improvements in the ease of doing business (EODB) along with other initiatives like the comprehensive tax reform program (CTRP) and the “Build, Build, Build” program has deepened investor confidence in the Philippines, leading to a 42.4 percent surge in net FDIs to $5.8 billion in the first half of 2018.
“Philippines is looking forward to more investments from the United Kingdom (UK), which is among the Philippines’ 10 leading sources of foreign direct investments (FDIs),” he noted.
Dominguez said the Philippines’ national government expenditures increasing by 23 percent in the first seven months of this year represents improved capacity to execute priority projects.
“The Philippines’ deficit-to-GDP ratio for the first half of this year amounting to 2.34 percent is well within the planned deficit ceiling of 3 percent of GDP up to 2022”, he said.
No debt trap
Asked as to whether Philippines is walking into a debt trap, Dominguez told them to look “look more closely at the actual terms of the loan contracts we sign”.
For example, the Metro subway project, which is one of the softest loans ever negotiated by the government, carries an interest rate of 10 basis points per annum for non-consulting services (or 0.1%) and 1 basis point per annum for consulting services, (or .01%), payable in 40 years inclusive of a 12-year grace period.
DOF also noted that the total revenue collection for the first eight months of this year was 19 percent higher than for the same period last year.