MANILA, Philippines–More than 93 percent of barangay (village) roads nationwide and nearly 69 percent and 66 percent, respectively, of provincial and national roads remain unpaved.
Despite this, the latest Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum (WEF) has noted a slight improvement in the quality of Philippine roads.
On a scale of 1 to 7–with 1 being extremely underdeveloped and 7 extensive and efficient by global standard–the country scored a 3.4 for its roads in the 2012-13 period, a 0.3 increase over the 3.1 in 2011-12. The road network received a score of 2.8 in 2010-11.
Of 144 countries, the Philippines ranked 87th (from 113th during the previous WEF survey) for the overall state of its public infrastructure.
Other countries in the region garnered the following scores on the quality of their roads: Vietnam, 2.6 in 2011-12 to 2.7 in 2012-13; Malaysia, 5.7 to 5.4; Thailand, 5 to 5, and Indonesia, 3.5 to 3.4, all for the same periods.
The Department of Public Works and Highways has acknowledged that the Philippines lags behind many of its neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in terms of quality of infrastructure and, in particular, the quality of its roads.
The country, the DPWH pointed out, was “still behind, except for Vietnam, which may not be for long due to the heavy investments in infrastructure going on in that country.”
In a report on the Philippine Road Network, a copy of which was furnished the INQUIRER, the DPWH disclosed that 25,443 km, or 80.52 percent of the 31,597.68 kilometers of national roads have been paved.
However, only 9,775 km of 31,233.23 km in provincial roads, 5,394 km of 15,816 km in municipal roads and 8,020 km of 121,702 km in barangay roads have been upgraded by the agency.
But with a four-year road improvement budget of over P124.6 billion, Public Works Rogelio Singson has expressed confidence the country’s ranking would improve before the end of President Aquino’s term in June 2016.
Between 2010 and 2012, the agency spent nearly P50 billion for the paving of national arterial and secondary roads all over the country.
In January, Singson asked DPWH engineers and other agency field personnel not to lose sight of their “target outcomes for the period 2012 to 2016.”
This year, the department “will continue to pursue the full pavement of national arterial roads and secondary roads by 2014 and 2016, respectively,” he said.
The DPWH “will also focus on the upgrading of bridges into permanent structures by 2016.”
Of the agency’s 2013 infrastructure budget of over P106.5 billion, Singson assured the DPWH “will be well-positioned to pursue and achieve these goals.”
For the third year in a row, strife-torn Mindanao will get the biggest slice of the department’s infrastructure budget pie with an allocation of P27.6 billion. On the other hand, the other regions will get the following funding: Northern Luzon, P24 billion; Southern Luzon, P20.4 billion; the Visayas, P19.4 billion; and Metro Manila, P14.6 billion.
The DPWH plans to utilize its savings of over P12 billion, which resulted from the conduct of transparent and competitive bidding of projects, on additional infrastructure projects, including the upgrading of roads and bridges.
Singson called the improvement of the quality and safety of the national road infrastructure “one of the DPWH priorities.”
“An indicative estimate of the national road network asset, which provides the connectivity to all Filipinos for their economic and social activities, is valued at P1.2 trillion. As such, the President has directed the DPWH to ensure that the quality and safety of the national road network are upgraded and maintained properly,” he said.
Singson added that “budgetary support until 2016 has been intended to achieve the DPWH’s key targets.”