Seventy-one years ago, on Sept. 7, 1950, the Philippine Congress passed Republic Act 573 that authorized the sending of the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK) to help South Korea repel the North Korean aggression.
The PEFTOK was composed of five battalion combat teams with a total number of 7,420 Filipino soldiers who fought alongside South Koreans. Since then, the two nations acknowledged a brotherhood forged in blood. Over the decades, both countries have nourished this relationship.
Today, South Korea, which has successfully transformed from a war-torn country to a highly-developed nation, is an active partner in our economic and development pursuits. The ascent was largely due to the successful implementation of the country’s economic and infrastructure program — where government and public enterprises accounted for close to 40 percent of the total domestic investment.
Now, Korea is the 5th largest Official Development Assistance (ODA) partner of the Philippines with loan and grant commitments amounting to $679.65 million as of June 2020. As to ODA grants to our country, it is the 9th largest provider with a total of $47.88 million as of June 2020. It has also committed ODA loans to the Philippines in the amount of $631.77 million through the Korea Export Import Bank- Economic Development Cooperation Fund (KEXIM-EDCF).
Last year, the Philippines and KEXIM have exchanged the signed documents on the $50-million loan agreement for the Philippines-Korea Project Preparation Facility (PKPPF), which will include feasibility studies and other project preparation activities necessary to speed up the implementation of the “Build, Build, Build” projects. Korea is also expressed interest to the possibility of providing funding support for the 32-kilometer Panay-Guimaras-Negros Bridge Project in Western Visayas.
Today, let’s explore the “Build, Build, Build” projects funded through loan agreements with South Korea:
- Panguil Bay Bridge Project
The construction of the 3.17-kilometer Panguil Bay Bridge is considered as the biggest infrastructure project in Northern Mindanao not only because it is part of the Mega Bridge Masterplan that aims to link Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, but also because of the major economic benefits that the region will reap.
The Panguil Bay Bridge will connect the City of Tangub in Misamis Occidental to the Municipality of Tubod in Lanao del Norte and will lessen travel time to only seven minutes, compared to the 1.5 to 2.5 hours it would take via the 100-kilometer route Tangub-Molave-Tubod Road or via Tangub-Kapatagan-Tubod Road. This is expected to uplift the economic condition and encourage growth of tourism between the provinces of Misamis Occidental and Lanao del Norte.
- Samar Pacific Coastal Road Project
The construction of an 11.6-kilometer road from Junction Simora to Junction Palapag in the town of Palapag with three bridge components — Simora, Jangtud 1, and Jangtud 2 Bridges — will link the “Pacific towns” of Northern Samar, and will complete the Samar Island circumferential road.
Once completed, Taft, Eastern Samar and the coastal municipalities of Northern Samar will be connected with Catarman, the provincial capital, without having to pass through the island town of Laoang, which is only accessible through small boats.
- Integrated Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation (IDRR-CCA) Measures in Low-lying Areas of Pampanga Bay
This project will improve drainage efficiency of the river channel network of Pampanga, particularly the Third River including the Eastern Branch, Caduang Tete, and Sapang Maragul Rivers. It will reduce flood level and flooding duration in the municipalities of Macabebe, Masantol, Minalin, and Sto. Tomas.
This includes excavation, dredging and embankment of river, and construction of three new bridges and five footbridges. Eight sluice gates and 164 fish pond gates will also be built as additional flood control measure.
Secretary Mark Villar explains that this is part of DPWH target outputs to build disaster resilient structures in calamity prone area.
- Updating of Master Plan, Feasibility Study and Detailed Engineering Design of Flood Control for BAPP Rivers
This is under the PKPPF Output 2, the updating of master plan, feasibility study and detailed engineering design for the priority four major river basins, namely, Bicol River, Agusan River, Panay River and Pampanga River (BAPP Rivers).
The updating of master plan and the feasibility study are expected to determine the required flood control infrastructures in the BAPP Rivers including the priority flood control projects based on economic, environmental and social impacts, together with the development of suitable and optimal investment programs. Identified priority projects will then be subjected to detailed engineering design.