Build, Build, Build: Luzon projects dominate in new P4.13-T flagship infrastructure list

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10


Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 22) — The Duterte administration now has 104 flagship infrastructure projects, after overhauling its priority list for the third time in four years.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board chaired by President Rodrigo Duterte approved on August 19 a longer list of flagship projects under its "Build, Build, Build" program, although slightly cheaper at ₱4.13 trillion compared to last year's list of 100 projects at a cost of ₱4.23 trillion.

The list is the third version of the government's priority big-ticket items, coming from the original list of 75 projects first revealed in 2016. Taking center stage this time are projects involving mass transportation.

Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said during a Senate budget hearing last week that projects retained or added to the latest list are all either under implementation or are nearing rollout. He said all projects will definitely start before Duterte ends his term in 2022.

RELATED: 'Build, Build, Build' to fuel PH economy 'bounce back' – Dominguez

Projects in Luzon account for three-fourths of the funding, getting 53 projects worth ₱3.17 trillion, according to NEDA data. Of these, 25 are located in Metro Manila, including the first-ever subway in the country with a ₱356.97-billion price tag. The project is supported by the official development assistance (ODA) from Japan.

Another project that would benefit the capital region is the ₱102.1-billion contract to upgrade and repair the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, an unsolicited project proposed by a group of conglomerates but was later awarded to Megawide Construction Corporation and its partners. 

There were 16 projects chosen for the Visayas worth ₱338.9 billion, the biggest of which are the ₱78.9-billion Cebu Monorail System and phase one of the ₱65.7-billion Panay-Guimaras Negros Bridge.

Meanwhile, Mindanao is getting 23 projects costing ₱498.9 billion. Major projects will benefit Davao, the President's hometown, through phase one of the Mindanao Railway at ₱81.7 billion and the ₱80.7-billion Davao City Expressway.

Twelve projects, worth ₱119.3 billion, are tagged for "nationwide" impact. These include the ₱20.3-billion national broadband program, the newly approved ₱33.9-billion ICT capability development and management program, and the ₱26.26-billion national ID project which the President wants activated the soonest.

What's in, what's out?

Presidential Adviser for Flagship Projects Vince Dizon said last month that about 13 projects were added to the new list, taking the place of shelved items which remain on the drawing board more than halfway into the President's term.

The plan to upgrade Sangley Airport in Cavite into a commercial gateway has been dropped from the list, which came after its supposed contractors MacroAsia and its controversial partner China Communications Construction Company failed to complete requirements for the final award.

The Chinese state-run company was recently blacklisted by the United States due to its involvement in illegal reclamation activities in the South China Sea.

The ₱56-billion Kanan Dam project that was supposed to boost the water supply in Metro Manila has also been dropped, as construction has yet to start. Its counterpart Kaliwa Dam has been retained, but other water projects like the Panay River Basin Development and the Kabulnan-2 Multipurpose Irrigation and Power Projects were shelved.

Others projects removed from last year's list were the ₱187-billion Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge, the ₱9.5-billion Dalton Pass East Alignment road project linking Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya, and the ₱14-billion New Zamboanga International Airport.

Apart from delays in construction, implementing agencies had to realign funding for some projects to be channeled to the government's COVID-19 response.

Among the new entrants were the ₱500-million Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines under the Department of Science and Technology. The project was identified following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some new items on the list with their corresponding project cost are: the General Santos Airport (₱1.1 billion); the Central Command Center for the Land Transportation Office (₱950 million); and the Motor Vehicle Recognition and Enhancement System (₱750 million).

ODA is king

Foreign loans and private money will play key roles in the government's push towards what it once touted as the "Golden Age of Infrastructure."

Of the ₱4.13 trillion spending program, more than half or ₱2.26 trillion will be supported by loans and grants from other countries, which will be met by a small counterpart funding from the national government. Some 50 projects will be supported by ODA, which will be paid by the state in the years to come.

Public-private partnerships –– once frowned upon by Duterte as a long, arduous process –– is back on the table, supporting 29 projects worth ₱1.69 trillion. The biggest project on the list is the ₱736-billion New Manila International Airport in Bulacan pitched by San Miguel Corporation which is fully funded by private money. Next on the list are the two segments of the North-South Commuter Railway in Luzon for ₱628.4 billion.

Public spending will fully fund 25 projects cumulatively worth ₱180.321 billion. The largest stand-alone project of the government is the Philippine Identification System at ₱26.26 billion.


By implementing agency: Department of Transportation (41), Department of Public Works and Highways (40), National Irrigation Administration (7), Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (4), Department of Information and Communications Technology (4), Department of the Interior and Local Government (1), Bases Conversion and Development Authority (1), Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (1), Department of Energy (1), National Power Corporation (1), Philippine Statistics Authority (1), Local Water Utilities Administration (1)

By funding source: official development assistance (50), public-private partnerships (29), general appropriations act (25) (with some overlaps)