The future is in the countryside



Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

When I was in high school, I watched “The Bucketlist” with two of my closest friends — Karen Jumarang and Chynna Cuna. It was a film staring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman about two terminally ill men on a road trip with a list of things to do before they kicked the bucket. After the movie, we decided to write our own lists. The first thing on my list was to visit every province in the Philippines.

After enrolling in UP Los Baños, I was even more determined. Laguna had a charm that up until today I couldn’t seem to get over with. Maybe, I thought, it would be as beautiful as Laguna. Rightly so. I couldn’t forget the first time I saw Tatlong Pulo in Guimaras, Lake Sebu in South Cotabato, Sitio Calauit in Palawan, or Cloud 9 Pier in Siargao. Fortunately then, my work with United Nations allowed me to travel to 120 municipalities in the Philippines.

And so, when Secretary Mark Villar first showed me the plan for the Mega Bridge Project, a network of short and long span bridges which would allow land travel from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, I was excited. The fact that it’s turning into a reality is even more thrilling. The construction of the first mega bridge — the 3.77-km Panguil Bay Bridge that will connect the City of Tangub in Misamis Occidental to the Municipality of Tubod in Lanao del Norte will start this 2018.

Once completed in 2021, it will reduce travel time from Tubod to Tangub by more than 90% from about 2.5 hours (using the 102-km route via the Tubod-Kapatagan-Molave-Tangub road) to only about 10 minutes. Travel time between Ozamiz City in Misamis Occidental and Mukas, Kolambugan in Lanao del Norte will also be reduced from 2.5 hours (using RORO) to only 20 minutes.

Also included in this network is the Bataan-Cavite Interlink, the Mindoro-Batangas Super Bridge, the Panay-Guimaras-Negors Link, the Negros-Cebu Link Bridge, the Panguil Bay Bridge, the Guicam Brdige, the Camarines-Catanduanes Friend Bridge, the Luzon Sorsogon-Samar Link Bridge, the Davao Samall Bridge, among others.

3,945 km of roads built

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.

Since assuming his post in June 2016, the Duterte administration has widened 1,908 km of roads, built 328 kilometers 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.

What is particularly interesting is that most of the construction activities are happening in the provinces.

For instance, of the total 1,908 km of roads widened, 298 km were constructed in Region IV-A, 215 km in Region II, and 170.11 km in Region X. The most diversion roads built is in Region XIII (52.7 km), Region X (97.13 km), and Region 1 (35.36 km).

In partnership with Department of Transportation led by Secretary Art Tugade and Department of Tourism led by Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat, DPWH has built a total of 1,316 km of access roads leading to airports, seaports/Ro-Ro ports, and tourist destinations. In Region VI (233 km), Region VII (160 km), and Region VIII (78 km) — a total of 471 km — were built.

DPWH has also widened a total of 511 bridges spanning 23,929 meters, replaced 204 bridges, spanning 8,305 meters, and built 127 new bridges spanning 6,260 meters. It has also rehabilitated 939 bridges spanning 40,192 meters and strengthened 642 bridges, spanning 29,260 meters.

Of the 511 bridges widened, 267 bridges were in Luzon, 109 bridges in Visayas, and 135 in Mindanao. The biggest number of new bridges were built in Region 5, Region 9, and Region 1.

What to expect in 2022

Villar said that by 2022, the Duterte administration will 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 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. Travel time from Ilocos to Bicol will be reduced from 19 hours and 40 minutes to 8 hours and 15 minutes.

As of date, we have already opened the 10.10-km Binalonan-to-Pozzorubio section of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway, the 9.96-km section of the Arterial Plaridel Bypass Project, the 9.3-km section of the Laguna Lake Expressway Project.