A look back on 'Build, Build, Build's' milestones as it reaches its final year

Published June 22, 2021, 5:49 PM

by Betheena Unite

With only a year to go before wrapping up, the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure modernization program of the Duterte administration has already more than 30,000 kilometers (km) of built and improved roads and bridges under its belt.

DPWH Secretary Mark Villar (second from right) leads an inspection at the NLEX Connector. (Photo from DPWH)

Since its launch in July 2016, the government’s flagship infrastructure program has delivered a total of 26,494 km of constructed, maintained, and improved roads; and 5,555 of built and rehabilitated bridges around the Philippines.

This output is reflected by the government’s increased infrastructure spending, which, according to Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark A. Villar, tripled from 2016 to 2020 compared to 2011 to 2015.

From 2011 to 2015, the total project accomplishment was worth P820 billion; compare that to the whopping P2.536 trillion recorded from 2016 to 2020, or the Duterte administration years.

And there’s still one year left with Build, Build, Build. The DPWH is the main implementer of the program, and Villar is the administration’s chief builder.

One of the early achievements of the program is the completion of the Laguna Lake Highway, which connects the towns of Rizal province to the eastern part of Metro Manila. It was also the first highway to incorporate a five-km bike lane.

This road project was a key part of the Build, Build, Build’s goal to open up more roads around the peripheral of Metro Manila in an attempt to decongest the go-to, overly-congested Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) and Circumferential Road 5 (C5).

Villar at Kalayaan Bridge, which was opened on June 12, 2021. (Photo by JM Pagulayan)

The DPWH’s mission to bring EDSA back to its old form led to the implementation of key elevated expressways within Metro Manila, namely, the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 and NLEX Harbor Link.

These elevated expressways serve as alternate routes between the southern part of the metropolis to the north, bypassing EDSA.

Under the ambitious infrastructure program, a sub-mission dubbed as the Luzon Spine Expressway was also created. It aims to expand the Luzon road network by constructing more than 20 highways and expressways.

Once the entire road network is realized, the 20-hour travel time between Ilocos and Bicol will be drastically reduced to only nine hours — the very definition of a “dream travel”, according to Villar.

Meanwhile, bridges damaged by strong typhoons that have remained in a dilapidated state for years were finally reconstructed during the Build, Build, Build era. One of these is the Pigalo Bridge in Isabela, which would go unrepaired for eight years until June 2019.

In Metro Manila, one of the most recent developments under the program is the opening of the Sta. Monica-Lawton Bridge. It connects the business and industrial hubs in the cities of Pasig, Makati, and Taguig, providing a physical link between Lawton Avenue in Makati City and Sta. Monica Street in Pasig City across the Pasig River.

Two more bridges, both funded by the Chinese government, are expected to open before Build, Build, Build concludes in 2022. These are the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge and the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge.

The DPWH’s role in the Build, Build, Build program also involved the implementation of calamity-related interventions such as constructing 10, 376 flood-mitigation structures nationwide.

The Leyte Tide Embankment was among the early delivered projects under the national infrastructure program. It is considered a key anti-storm surge structure as it will act as a “great wall” protecting 30,800 houses and establishments situated at “Yolanda”-affected areas in Tacloban, Palo, and Tanauan in Leyte.

Villar snaps a selfie with workers of Build, Build, Build. (Photo from Villar’s Facebook)

In the past five years, a total of 144,925 classrooms wee built by the DPWH in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd). In order to stop the practice of using school classrooms as evacuation centers, the DPWH has also constructed a total of 187 evacuation centers nationwide.

When the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) struck the country last year, the department also took on the job of building quarantine facilities and additional rooms for hospitals. To date, it has provided a total of 688 facilities with 25,200 beds.

The spirit of Build, Build, Build must live beyond the Duterte administration if the numerous road construction projects–most of them located in the countryside–are to come to fruition. One example is the Camarines Sur Expressway, a 15.21-km highway that is now 15.78 percent complete.

Another such road project, the 18.21-km Davao City Coastal Road has a current progress rate of 36.32 percent.