Gov’t OK’s P407B worth of flood control, railway, airport and road projectsBy TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Nearly a month after monsoon rains caused floods in a large part of the capital, President Aquino and his Cabinet gave the green light on Tuesday for the ambitious P351-billion master plan for flood control management that would be completed in 2035.
The master plan, together with the expansion of a railway system, construction of airports, and upgrade of roads and bridges, all with a total project cost of at least P407 billion, was approved by the National Economic Development Authority board, chaired by Aquino, in Malacañang.
“The master plan has been approved by the NEDA board with the initial allocation of P5 billion. The master plan is going to take a number of years; it will be completed in 2035,” Strategic Communication Secretary Ricky Carandang told reporters after the meeting. “That will happen immediately.’’
Nine out of the 11 key infrastructure projects were approved during the NEDA board meeting presided by the President. The rest, including the acquisition of patrol vessels for deployment in the West Philippine Sea, were deferred because of “technical questions,’’ Carandang said.
The projects would be funded by the national budget, loans and grants, and public-private partnerships, he said.
In the aftermath of the August 7 deluge in many parts of Metro Manila and Central and Southern Luzon, triggered by monsoon rains, the Department of Public Works and Highways unveiled the master plan in a bid to stop flooding in the metropolis.
The master plan to stop floods, which calls for at least P351.72 billion in infrastructure spending, covers a total of 11 infrastructure projects.
These include the Manila core area drainage improvements costing P27.2 billion; the East Manggahan Floodway and improvement in Cainta and Taytay rivers, P26 billion; the Malabon-Tullahan river improvements, P21.6 billion; Meycauayan river improvements, P14.04 billion; Valenzuela-Obando-Meycauayan river improvements, P8.631 billion; land-raising for small cities around Laguna Lake, P7.15 billion; and the improvement of inflow rivers to Laguna Lake, P637 million.
Also in the plan are “marginal priority” projects: South Parañaque-Las Piñas river improvements, P17.3 billion; and West Manggahan area drainage improvements, P5.52 billion.
“As I was telling you before, we have talked to the public about it during the last storm and it is a project that clearly has a need. Just to show you the urgency of this project, we have approved the initial P5 billion,” Carandang said, but could not say which of these projects would be funded by the P5 billion.
“The DPWH project can proceed well as the funds were released. They should start very soon in a matter of weeks,” he added.
The other projects approved by the NEDA Board were:
* Various bridge projects of the DPWH across the country, from 2013 to 2017 (P16.3 billion)
* Change in scope, increase in cost and implementation of extension for the Mindanao Roads Improvement Project (MRIP), from 2012 to 2014 (P3.9 billion)
* Light Rail Transit Line 2 East Extension Project from the Santolan Station to the Masinag Junction in Antipolo City, 2012 to 2016 (P9.7 billion)
* MRT 3 Capacity Extension Project, from 2012 to 2019 (P8.6 billion)
* Bicol International Airport Project, from 2013 to 2015 (P4.8 billion)
* New Bohol, Panglao Airport Development Project, from 2012 to 2017 (P7.4 billion)
* Strengthening of the Angat Dam and Dike Project 2013 to 2016 (P5.7 billion)
* Request by PSALM (Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp.) for Financing Agus Vi Hydroelectric Powerplant (units 1 and 2) Uprating Project, whose cost and period of implementation are not available
Together with the P351 billion master plan, the total cost of the projects amounts to P407.4 billion.
“There were also various bridge construction projects, which were proposed previously by the DPWH. Many of these bridges have to do with the rehab of calamity stricken areas … We have approved the acceleration of the timetable for that,” Carandang said.
The two projects whose approval were deferred were the Cavite-Laguna Expressway Project and the acquisition of vessels by the Philippine Coast Guard, especially patrol boats, he said.
“There is the Cavite Laguna Expressway project. We need to clarify some details, like how it fits in with the national road integration and all of that,” Carandang said.
“There is also the acquisition of the vehicles for the Coast Guard, especially patrol boats. There are technical questions that needed to be addressed before it gets approval. In principle, we understand the need for more patrol vessels but there are certain technical requirements that needed to be clarified before we could approve that. So that has been deferred. I will not say that they were not approved; they were only deferred,’’ he added.
Once the technical questions were addressed, the projects could move forward, he said.