One of my earliest recollections of Department of Transportation Secretary Art Tugade was during the inspection of the LRT-2 East Extension Project – a railway project which would add four kilometers to the existing 13.8-kilometer LRT-2 train line, connecting Recto Avenue in Manila to Masinag in Antipolo. The event was scheduled to start at 7 a.m. Secretary Art arrived at 5:30 a.m. Five years after the launch of the Build, Build, Build, this work ethic is even more evident and Secretary Art has revolutionized the way transportation is done in the Philippines.
For instance, after 40 years and six administrations, the Metro Manila Subway, our country’s first underground railway system, finally started with site-clearing works at the Valenzuela depot. Two out of the 25 massive tunnel boring machines are already in the Philippines for the start of the underground works within 2021.
Finally – a long-term traffic solution that would enable Filipinos to aspire for a better future. Didn’t we all dream to one day see a subway in the Philippines?
From 2011 to 2016, NAIA used to be one of the world’s worst airports. In just two years of the Duterte Administration, it was awarded and recognized as one of the most improved airports in the world. NAIA Terminal 1 now has new glass aerobridges and two rapid exit taxiways.
Since President Duterte assumed office, DOTR and its attached agencies have completed 214 aviation projects, with 100 more ongoing. These include the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, the Sangley Airport in Cavite, the Bohol – Panglao International Airport, the Puerto Princesa International Airport and the Ormoc Airport.
A new international gateway in Bicol is already halfway completed, and the construction of a second terminal at the Clark International Airport is underway.
Domestic airports have also been improved. Airport terminals in San Vicente (Palawan), Tacloban, Tuguegarao, Virac, and Maasin (Leyte) were expanded and rehabilitated. Infrastructure development for four airports (Laoag, Vigan, Cotabato, and Sanga-Sanga [Tawi- Tawi]), following the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of National Defense, is in the pipeline.
To keep air travel safe and to improve the overall air travel experience, Secretary Tugade prioritized the installation of the new Communications, Navigation, Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM), which added 10 radars covering 100 percent of Philippine airspace.
Moreover, 21 commercial airports are now equipped with night-flight capabilities.
For railways, DOTR has six projects with ongoing construction and one undergoing rehabilitation.
The much-delayed MRT-7 whose Concession Agreement was signed in 2008 but had nearly zero movement until 2016, is now 60.93 percent complete. This will reduce travel time between Quezon City and Bulacan from 2-3 hours to just 35 minutes.
Approved by the NEDA Board in 2007 and stalled since 2009, the Common Station is now undergoing 24/7 construction, and is now 50.95 percent complete. The common station, which will connect MRT-3, MRT-7, LRT-1, and the Metro Manila Subway, will have the capacity to accommodate 500,000 passengers per day.
The LRT-1 Cavite Extension, delayed for 19 years, finally started full-blast construction this year. This will reduce travel time between Baclaran and Bacoor from one hour 10 minutes down to 25 minutes.
The LRT-2 East Extension project is now completed and open to the public. The LRT-2 East Extension reduces travel time between Manila and Antipolo from two to three hours to just 40 minutes.
In the last five years, there have been 451 commercial and social/tourism port projects completed nationwide. Another 101 are ongoing. The passenger terminal building of Sasa Port in Davao City and the new passenger terminal building at Cagayan de Oro Port is now complete.
The Cavite Gateway Terminal, the country’s first barge terminal, has also been inaugurated.
If there is one thing I know – Secretary Art is definitely a man of action.