With a raging pandemic in the backdrop, President Duterte delivered his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 27, at the Batasang Pambansa Complex. Among the highlights in his speech is the Build, Build, Build program–the infrastructure development program launched in 2017, mentioned in this transcript from Philstar.
Recognizing that the initiative has completed significant projects, Duterte said that a “comprehensive written report on collective milestones and details of accomplishments” will soon be available for the public.
Later in the speech, he mentioned that economic managers believe infrastructure developments promote growth, woo investors, and generate employment opportunities, supporting financial inclusion for Filipinos.
Enumerating the construction projects that went back to work after the suspension under community quarantine protocols, Duterte mentioned North Luzon Expressway Harbor Link, the NLEX-SLEX Connector, the Cavite-Laguna Expressway, and the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3. He likewise talked about the resumed operations in R-1 Bridge, Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway, and the Subic Freeport Expressway.
Duterte called the development initiatives under the Build, Build, Build program “economic benefits,” which will benefit all parts of the country and promote sustainability in urban areas, especially the capital region.
Status of Projects
Earlier in June, the C3-R10 segment of the North Luzon Expressway Harbor Link in Navotas City was opened to motorists, according to Business Mirror. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez commended the completed construction project, as it will facilitate faster, more efficient delivery of goods. An elevated expressway, the 2.6-kilometer road provides a direct thoroughfare between NLEX and Port of Manila.
The NLEX Harbor Link alignment is connected to NLEX-SLEX Connector, which traverses C3 Road in Caloocan City, passing PUP Sta. Mesa in Manila, until Skyway Stage 3. It’s expected to cut travel time between the two major expressways from two hours to merely 15 to 20 minutes.
When completed, the high-standard highway project will reduce travel time between SLEX and NLEX from 1.5-2 hours to only 15-20 minutes. It will shorten travel time between Clark and Calamba from 3 hours to only 1 hour and 40 minutes. According to Wheels.PH, road construction is set to be finished this year.
Meanwhile, the East Silang Exit of the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX) is expected to open in the first quarter of 2021, as reported by Business Mirror. The construction team was able to secure “50 percent” of the right of way for the Cavite section already.
CALAX is a four-lane road that runs over 45 kilometers from the Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway (CAVITEX) to the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX). When completed, it will have eight interchanges in Kawit, Daang Hari, Governor’s Drive, Aguinaldo Highway, Silang, Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay, Laguna Blvd., Technopark, and before SLEX.
As reported in Wheels.PH, the construction for the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 is 83 percent complete. The final section of the 89.21-kilometer Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway, meanwhile, is opened already, Manila Standard reported. Such development will cut travel time from Metro Manila to Baguio City to less than four hours.
The Subic Freeport Expressway expansion project, on the other hand, was at 40 percent completion, as reported by Business World last month. Authorities, however, are still aiming to finish construction before 2020 ends.
The Rise of Agri-Industrial Sites
While the public works and highways department is tackling the Build, Build, Build project, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is likewise supporting infrastructure development in the form of agri-industrial hub projects. Partnering with other government agencies, the agency is gearing up for the construction of such sites in key areas. The first one will rise in New Clark City, while the second will be in Taguig.
Aside from this, the office launched Plant, Plant, Plant in May, a program aimed at supporting the country’s food security amid the pandemic. The inauguration was celebrated during the farmers and fisherfolks’ month, as reported by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA).
Under the program, urban communities are urged to engage in fish and vegetable farming. Likewise, it promotes a more vibrant farming culture in rural areas.
In March, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) approved DA’s request for a supplemental budget amounting to P31 billion. The budget covers different initiatives, including rice resiliency, palay procurement, expanded agriculture insurance, and social amelioration for farmers and farmworkers.
There will also be funds allocated for integrated livestock and corn resiliency, coconut-based diversification, revitalized gulayan, and urban agriculture.
Sources: Philstar, Business Mirror, Wheels.PH, Manila Standard, Business World, Philippine Information Agency, Department of Agriculture