Remember the scourge in the previous administration of almost daily breakdowns in the mass rail system and the inconvenience of commuters who had to form kilometric lines for a ride to get to work or to return home? Those days are over.
In two-and-a-half years, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) turned around the state of public transportation and infrastructure that facilitated travel and that also placed the agency at the forefront of the “Build, Build, Build” program of President Rodrigo Duterte.
In the past year, the DoTr had delivered big-ticket projects that increased connectivity and enhanced the mobility of Filipinos.
The agency was also steadfast on good governance through processes that espouse transparency and accountability.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said the government is making sure that key projects will be in place before the end of the Duterte administration to help improve the lives of Filipinos.
Tugade added the administration targets the completion of all infrastructure projects by 2022, including the upgrading of all existing transportation infrastructures and the building of new ones.
“The President said: Make Filipino lives comfortable. And as you make them comfortable, make sure that you put up these infrastructures,” the DoTr chief said.
Tugade noted that his agency has been busy modernizing existing airports in the country while exploring possibilities to add more terminals.
He also mentioned that the administration has been aggressive in implementing railway projects.
Among DoTr’s achievements under Mr. Duterte are making the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) among the world’s most improved airports; putting an end to the laglag-bala menace at airports; requiring flag-carrier Philippine Airlines to pay its P6 billion debt to government; finding a settlement on the Northrail project at no cost to the government; determining the location for the common station for the Metro Rail Transit (MRT)-Light Rail Transit (LRT) systems being agreed upon by parties; addressing the backlog in driver’s license cards and the use of paper receipts; starting the delivery of vehicle plates delayed in the previous administration and the opening of the government’s own plate-making facility; expanding the P2P bus routes from two to 37; recording fewer MRT-3 unloading incidents; returning to Sumitomo-Mitsubishi the MRT-3 rehabilitation and maintenance; after decades, developing a modernization program for jeepneys; declaring the Maritime Industry Authority as the single maritime administration to harmonize Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers and monitor maritime education, training, medical examination and port state-control inspections.
Air travel improved
In the aviation sector, notable feats include the completion of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Terminal 2; the start of operations of the Bohol-Panglao International Airport; the construction of Bicol International Airport, which is now 51 percent complete; the setting up of a world-class terminal for Puerto Princesa International Airport; the beginning of works on the second terminal at Clark International Airport; the expansion and rehabilitation of domestic airport terminals in San Vicente (Palawan), Tacloban, Tuguegarao, Virac and Maasin (Leyte); an original proponent status to companies for the rehabilitation of the NAIA and the development of international airports for Davao and Kalibo; the installation of new communications, navigation, surveillance/air traffic management systems; the provision of night-flight capabilities to 21 commercial airports, and the recording of 100 international and 400 domestic flight milestones for Clark Airport.
Railways made efficient
Mass transit was also greatly enhanced through a loan agreement between the Philippines and Japan for the MRT-3 rehabilitation and the deployment of two Dalian train sets for MRT-3’s main line.
The DoTr also reported the construction of MRT-7 from North Edsa to Bulacan is 37.41 percent complete as of October 2018, while the Metro Manila Subway project is set to start.
The North-South Commuter Railway Extension Project had also begun construction, while the first phase of the Clark Railway is set to start.
Likewise, the Mindanao Railway will begin the first phase of construction, while the LRT Line 1 extension undertaking will be implemented in the first quarter of 2019.
The return of the Bicol Express route is also gaining steam, according to DoTr.
Other distinct projects were the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange that has begun operations; the completion of plans for the construction of the Taguig Integrated Terminal Exchange; the signing of a memorandum of understanding for the North Integrated Terminal Exchange; the Land Transportation Office rolling out new driver’s license cards with five-year validity; the approval by the Office of Transportation Cooperatives’ for accreditation of 36 new transport cooperatives, bringing the current total to 681, as of 24 January 2019, and the continued implementation of the Pantawid Pasada Program that distributed 78,409 fuel subsidy cards as of 28 January 2019.
Through the DoTr, the passenger terminal building of Cagayan de Oro Port is now 81.78 percent complete, while the construction of Cebu International Container Port is set to begin next year.
The agency also completed over 161 commercial and social/tourism port projects nationwide, upgraded ports in General Santos, Basilan and Davao Del Sur and reopened the Davao to Manila passenger shipping route.
Red tape cut
In compliance with Republic Act 9485 or the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007, the DoTr has taken the necessary initiatives to improve efficiency in the delivery of government service.
The DoTr and its attached agencies presented efforts through a report sent to the Civil Service Commission Anti-Red Tape Task Force that reflected numerous programs and services that are free of corruption.
“Corruption is not tolerated within our ranks as we serve the Filipino people. The DoTr will continue to comply with the Anti-Red Tape Act, because our citizens deserve quality and honest service. Galit kami sa corrupt. Galit kami sa tamad at mabagal (We are mad at corrupt employees. We are mad at laziness and delays),” Tugade said.
The DoTr also issued a memorandum for all of its officials and heads of attached agencies to implement and properly adhere to Republic Act 11032, or the Act Promoting Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Delivery of Government Services. All offices were then instructed to review their respective transaction procedures for improvements, accompanied by consultative sessions and orientations.
Tugade maintained the values of transparency and efficiency are perpetually linked in the delivery of excellent government service.