Duterte says 'gov't ended misery of public commuting’; tax reform funded infra expansion

Published July 26, 2021, 7:25 PM

by Raymund Antonio

President Duterte claimed during his sixth and last State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 26, that his administration has “taken away the misery of public commuting” as he compared his transportation infrastructure achievements to that of the past four presidents.

President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his sixth and final State of the Nation Address on July 26, 2021. (RTVM Screenshot)

In his address before members of the Congress at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City, the Chief Executive said that developments in the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) and the opening of the Skyway Stage 3 removed the hurdles of public commuting.

These, he cited, were the results of the “comprehensive tax reform program that enable us to fund critical infrastructure projects.”

The President claimed that one of the goals of his administration was to increase infrastructure spending and they did it “to an average of five percent of the country’s GDP (gross domestic product).”

“This is significantly higher than infrastructure spending of each and past four administrations,” he said, referring to the administrations of the late former President Benigno Aquino III, former Presidents Gloria Arroyo, Joseph Estrada, and Fidel Ramos.

READ: SMC’s Skyway Stage 3 is proof of how public-private partnership drives significant development

“Today, we can see the tangible results all around. MRT-3 with its frequent breakdowns and unloading passengers…was a horror for the daily commuters to endure in the past,” Duterte noted.

However, viral posts on social media showed passengers still having a hard time commuting because public transportation is limited because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said that the MRT no longer unloads passengers back to their destinations since “the waiting time between trains has been significantly reduced.”

In the past, there were only 10 trains running only at 30 kilometers but now, the MRT has 23 trains running at 60 kilometers per hour, Duterte claimed.

Another accomplishment he said his administration has completed is the LRT-2 East Extension project that extended Line 2 and added two more stations, reducing the travel time between Manila and Antipolo from two to three hours to only 40 minutes.

READ: LRT-2 East Extension operates Monday, gives 2 weeks free rides

The LRT2 East Extension project was approved back in 2012 during the Aquino administration. A groundbreaking ceremony was even held in 2015.

Duterte also thanked the private sector for opening the Stage 3 of the Metro Manila Skyway in January. Similar to the East Extension project, the Skyway Stage 3 was a project of the previous administration under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP).

The President earlier claimed it was done under his Build, Build, Build program, his administration’s flagship infrastructure program.