Infrastructure for Inclusive Growth

PHOTO CAPTION: Manny Pangilinan, PA Joey Concepcion & Jaime Zobel de Ayala.

The road to an inclusive economy will be long and hard, but with everyone contributing to the mission, the goal will be achieved in no time. With President Duterte leading the charge for change to happen, we are assured that more Filipinos will experience the growth of our economy.

I am privileged to be part of both the public and private sector. Public as the presidential adviser for entrepreneurship, and private as a member of the business community. I am somehow serving to provide linkage between these two sectors which are vital to infrastructure development projects.

Since one of the President’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda highlights the importance of public-private partnerships for infrastructure development, it is vital to link the conglomerates to the right departments in order to explore collaborations.

Since January 2017, the conglomerates all agreed to find ways to help the administration and collaborate with the economic team. Since then, we had several meetings with the economic team led by Sec. Sonny Dominguez to explore the Build Build Build program which is focused on infrastructure development including airport improvements. Our conglomerates are glad to be of service not just to the government, but most especially to the whole Filipino nation.

Last Tuesday, I chaired the private-public sector meeting to discuss the key issues on infrastructure. We met with the economic team including Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, and Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia to discuss the developments of the airports in the country. It was a fruitful discussion with Sec. Tugade sharing the updates on certain projects. As you may have known by now, some conglomerates have submitted their respective proposals for our Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The NAIA Consortium, which includes Aboitiz InfraCapital, AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp., Alliance Global Group, Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corp., Filinvest Development Corp., JG Summit Holdings, and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. have submitted a multi-billion worth of project which aims to improve and expand the exixting NAIA terminals.

Conglomerates met with the economic team led by Transportation Sec. Arthur Tugade to discuss infrastructure programs.

The hardworking DOTR Sec. Arthur Tugade explained his vision and position on airports, specially NAIA. As we all know, NAIA is crucial as this creates the first experience of what to expect in the Philippines. When we land in a country, this is what we get to see first and a good impression is important. This is what Sec. Art has been trying to do with the resources he has. His vision of getting the provincial airports, like Clark and others, as the eventual gateways of international flights is the right direction. I would say there are quite a number of improvements considering the problems he inherited, but we need to take NAIA to a world-class level like Singapore, Hongkong, and Japan, most especially if we want tourism to be the next big thing. It is worth noting that according to a recent SWS survey commissioned by the private sector, 62 percent of Filipinos prefer to have NAIA where it is currently located. I am sure Sec. Art and the economic team will make the right decision on the unsolicited offer they have today.

With these tie-ups and collaborations on airport terminals, highways, and cargo hubs, we look forward to a developed transportation and logistics system in the country.

Apart from the airport projects, DPWH Sec. Mark also updated the group on the NLEX-SLEX connector which will start its civil works this year. Other expected infrastructure projects include a harbor link which is now 70 percent in civil works and will greatly contribute in Manila decongestion. The Laguna Lake highway will soon be finished around June or July this year. DPWH is also widening the busy area of Lawton and plans an extension for NAIA 2 which improves connectivity to the port. Construction of the Skyway extension is also underway and will open the first exit by the end of the second quarter of this year. Sec. Mark also shared the major flagship projects outside Metro Manila which includes Metro Cebu expressway, the Davao coastal road, and the Bacolod economic highway.

He also briefly discussed the Boracay rehabilitation program which starts on April 26. The rehabilitation will include road widening and development for better traffic flow. Currently, the circumferential roads in Boracay is about eight meters and they plan to have 12 meters right of way. They have brought in their equipment, and whoever has their properties encroaching on the main road will be demolished. Hopefully, there will be a better Boracay at the end of this year.

Sec. Arthur Tugade, Sec. Mark Villar, and Sec. Ernesto Pernia.

Sec. Mark appreciates the cooperation from the private sector since majority of the highway projects will pass through one or two of the conglomerates’ properties. He also hopes the private sector will continue to support the infrastructure projects.

Sec. Mon Lopez then updated the group on the issue of contractualization which is now under the discussion of DTI and DOLE. He said the executive department agrees that “the current labor code as it stands is a fair law already and addresses all needs.” He said they highlighted that job generation is important as it would affect the investments in the Philippines since there are indications from the investors that if there is uncertainty in this regard, they could easily locate to other ASEAN countries like Myanmar, Cambodia or Vietnam.

Through these engagements of the public and private sectors, we have the chance to dialogue and discuss the plans and projects of the country. The private sector has pledged its support to the government and its projects, and is one with the Duterte administration in planning for a better future for the country.