Three names stood out in the economic field last year, which will be remembered for sustained strong growth despite several obstacles, mainly the spike in the inflation rate that limited development potentials.
Daily Tribune listed Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi and Davao City-based diversified businessman Dennis Uy as figures who made the biggest impact in the business sector.
Before taking on the role as the 18th Secretary for the Department of Transportation (DoTr), Tugade was previously president and chief executive officer of the government-owned Clark Development Corporation (CDC), an attached agency of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) tasked to run the Clark Freeport Zone and the Clark Special Economic Zone.
In an interview, Tugade said he wanted to particularly instill in the agency good values which is part of his confidence in the crucial role of employees in an organization.
Under his able leadership, CDC became the Company of the Year in the Asia CEO Forum after it showed a record-high P1.49 billion in revenues from 2013 to 2015.
Using his vast experience in the private sector as springboard, Tugade implemented various projects as Transportation secretary which were all aimed at ensuring ease of travel among commuters and improving the tight vehicular traffic crisis.
The projects are part of the “Build, Build, Build” program that aims to develop vital infrastructure, seeking to provide connectivity in various areas of the country to promote economic growth and to similarly decongest Metro Manila roads.
On 5 November 2018, the agency inaugurated the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) which is the first integrated and multi-modal terminal in the southwestern part of Metro Manila.
The facility will serve as transfer point between provincial buses of Cavite and Batangas as well as in-city modes of transportation.
It will also provide interconnectivity between different transport modes and services that will ensure efficient and seamless travel for commuters.
Located along Coastal Road, the PITX is expected to reduce the number of provincial buses plying Metro Manila, specifically along Taft Avenue-Pasay and Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA).
“So, I am impressed, I am proud that they built this beautiful structure. And it will serve the Filipino and that is what’s very important to me,” President Rodrigo Duterte said when he first glanced at the facility during the PITX inauguration rites.
“As the first integrated and multi-modal terminal in the southwestern part of Metro Manila, PITX is a landmark project — a ‘landport’ that feels and functions like an airport,” he added.
PITX has airport amenities such as departure and arrival areas and baggage handling facilities that can accommodate over 100,000 passengers per day.
It also has automated ticketing and bus monitoring systems and multiple terminals for bus, jeepney, UV Express, taxis and transport network services.
Buses coming from provinces near Metro Manila must pass through the terminal to pick up and drop off passengers.
The DoTr also held last year the groundbreaking of the Taguig Integrated Terminal Exchange (ITX) which is expected to ease traffic congestion on EDSA.
Taguig ITX is projected to accommodate 4,000 buses and 160,000 passengers per day. It will likewise feature a pedestrian walkway connecting to the Philippine National Railways (PNR)-FTI station and the proposed Mega Manila subway system.
Transport system rationalized
The DoTr will also bid out the North Integrated Terminal Exchange in Bocaue, Bulacan, which will serve as a stop for buses coming from the provinces along the northern part of Metro Manila.
The department is likewise pushing for the implementation of an integrated transport system (ITS) to address the traffic congestion in Metro Cebu.
The system will include various transportation modes, such as a bus rapid transit system; point-to-point bus system; a monorail in Lapu-Lapu City and the Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines from Carcar to Danao and the Mandaue to Airport Line.
“The ITS was developed after due consideration of Metro Cebu’s road profile and the fast-growing need of efficient mass transport systems in bigger, interconnected cities. As our cities progress, we need to address the need for an efficient public transportation,” Tugade said.
Under the transport plan, a Common Station is being considered in two areas: a coastal district and a city center.
Passengers will be ushered to an interlink terminal where connecting transit systems of all the components (bus-to-LRT, bus-to-BRT or BRT-to-LRT) are located.
The DoTr aims to achieve partial operability of the multi-modal transport system within the next one-and-a-half to two years.
“Once implemented, Cebu will become beautiful and more livable. The ITS will encourage interoperability and interconnectivity of land, air and sea transportation,” according to Tugade.
MRT-3 gets serious rehab
Another major DoTr achievement last year was the signing of the P18-billion loan agreement between the Philippines and Japan for the rehabilitation of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) on 8 November 2018.
The loan agreement covers the repair and maintenance of the MRT-3’s electromechanical components, power supply, rail tracks and depot equipment and the overhaul of its 72 light-rail vehicles.
Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will take over the rehabilitation and maintenance of MRT-3. The consortium signed and built the railway system from 1998 to 2000 and maintained the system from 2000 to 2012.
The upgrade of the MRT-3 will take about 43 months, with the first 26 months focused on the rehabilitation of the entire system.
The MRT also deployed the initial set of trains purchased from Chinese firm CRRC Dalian.
The first train set, which consists of three cars, was deployed in the MRT line last October while another train set was deployed last December.
The MRT-3 currently runs an average of 15 trains daily, with headway time of seven minutes serving around 300,000 passengers.
Subway becomes reality
The construction for the Metro Manila Subway will also begin this year and will have partial operations by 2022 in three stations: North Avenue, Mindanao Avenue and Tandang Sora. It will have full operations in 2025.
Last March, the Philippine and Japanese governments signed a loan agreement for the subway project with the initial tranche amounting to 104.53 billion yen or roughly P49.45 billion.
The first phase of the 25-kilometer underground railway, which has an estimated cost of P356.96 billion, will have a total of 14 stations from Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Parañaque City.
The succeeding phases will involve extending the subway system to San Jose del Monte, Bulacan and Dasmariñas, Cavite.
The department has also awarded the project management consultancy contract for the PNR South Rail Project to the China Railway Design Corp. and Guangzhou Wanan Construction Supervision Corp. last 17 November 2018.
The railway project would be financed through the Overseas Development Assistance from the government of China.
The 639-kilometer PNR Bicol Project covering Manila to Matnog town in Sorsogon is expected to be partially operational by 2022.
Furthermore, the Philippines and Japan have signed an exchange of notes over the North-South Commuter Railway Extension Project last November.
The DoTr is also pursuing the development of airports outside Metro Manila to decongest NAIA which has recorded around 42 million passengers – exceeding its capacity of just 31 million passengers.
The department is eyeing to utilize Clark International Airport as an alternative gateway to the country.
A consortium between Singapore’s Changi Airport and local conglomerates JG Summit Holdings Inc. and Filinvest Development Corp. will likely secure the operations and maintenance of Clark Airport, according to Tugade.
The bidder, known as North Luzon Airport Consortium, emerged as the sole qualified group after the only other challenger, dubbed X-Droid Consortium, was disqualified during the bidding conducted last November.
The DoTr is also seen to award two key airport projects in Bulacan and Manila by early 2019.
These projects, namely, San Miguel Corp.’s P800-billion international airport in Bulacan province and NAIA Consortium’s P102-billion project, offer to modernize and operate NAIA had yet to be cleared by the Investment Coordination Committee of the NEDA (NEDA-ICC), according to the department.
The approval of the NEDA-ICC will be followed by the approval of the NEDA Board which is chaired by President Duterte. As unsolicited proposals, the final step is a bidding process known as Swiss Challenge which requires at least 60 days inviting third parties to bid and match the terms of the project. To be continued
With AJ Bajo