Duterte tells DBM, NEDA: Finish flagship projects within my term

Duterte tells DBM, NEDA: Finish flagship projects within my term

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday ordered economic managers to finish the administration's flagship projects before he steps down even as he claimed that the government was able to take away the "misery" of commuters.

During his final state of the nation address, Duterte said the government has inaugurated new highways, roads and skyways and brought new trains. The projects, the president added, are testament that the administration has "greatly eased the grueling experience of traveling and commuting."

"To sustain our momentum in infrastructure development, I have directed the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways), DOTr (Department of Transportation), NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority), Department of Finance, and DBM (Department of Budget and Management) to be on full speed to ensure that our flagship projects will be completed within my term, especially those that would help disperse economic activity outside the densely populated Metro Manila," Duterte said.

"I thus earnestly call upon our LGU and private sector partners to help us (go on) full speed towards the realization of our flagship (infrastructure projects) and others," he added.

Duterte said he made sure that infrastructure spending would increase to an average of five percent of the Philippines' gross domestic product during the beginning of his term. He said the tax reform packages passed by Congress allowed the government to bankroll key projects.

"Thanks to the comprehensive tax reform program that enabled us to fund critical infrastructure projects. Today, we can see the tangible results all around," Duterte said.

Duterte said the frequent breakdowns of MRT-3 and the unloading of passengers midrail was a "horror" that daily commuters had to endure. He claimed the train no longer unloads passengers before reaching their destination.

The president added that the  waiting time between trains has been significantly reduced as the MRT-3 now runs 23 trains at 60 kilometers per hour from just ten trains running at only 30 kilometers per hour.
"We have taken away the misery of public commuting," Duterte said.

Duterte also cited the completion of the LRT-2 East Extension Project, which reduced travel time between Manila and Antipolo from two or three hours to 40 minutes; the opening of the Stage 3 of the Metro Manila Skyway, which decongested EDSA and other major Metro Manila roads, and the inauguration of the Kalayaan Bridge.

"Beyond Metro Manila, we are pursuing several high-impact projects that will be completed within my term and perhaps in the following years. It's a question of money," Duterte said.

The president mentioned the newly-built passenger terminal building of the Clark International Airport, and the completion of several roads leading to important trade corridors like the Poro Point Freeport Zone Road in La Union, and the Junction Lanao-Pagadian-Zamboanga City Road.

Duterte said the government aims to complete the Sorsogon City Coastal By-Pass Road by the end of the year while the Davao City Coastal Road is expected to be finished by 2023.

The president said he has told economic managers to make his hometown Davao City the "last priority."  

"Do not look into the political entrails of the city and the other provinces. I really made Davao the last... For the Davaoeños, you must understand that we cannot really prioritize it because I am from the city," Duterte said in Filipino
Duterte said he prioritized Sorsogon, which he described as a territory of Vice President and opposition leader Leni Robredo.

"Sorsogon is... a little politics, but that's the territory of our Vice President Leni Robredo. Are you here, Ma'am? Ah, (you attended ia) Zoom. You have the Sorsogon (Coastal By-Pass Road) and other projects," the president said.