MANILA -- A total of PHP909.7 billion out of the proposed PHP3.757 trillion national budget for 2019 will be allotted for the construction of the flagship projects under the "Build, Build, Build" program.

According to President Rodrigo Duterte’s budget message recently submitted to Congress, the PHP909.7 billion for infrastructure projects represents 24.2 percent of the cash budget for 2019 or 4.6 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

“Investments in sufficient and quality infrastructure will increase economic activity through improved mobility, connectivity and sustainability across the country,” Duterte emphasized.

He said the public infrastructure spending in 2019 is estimated to generate 1.1 million jobs “something we desperately need”.

The Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH) will get the bulk of the 2019 infrastructure budget amounting to PHP555.7 billion while the Department of Transportation (DOTr) will take PHP76.1 billion.

Duterte said the two departments will use the amount to provide connectivity for all Filipinos and to implement major infrastructure projects.

Of the DPWH budget, PHP113.29 billion will be used for the network development including widening of 778.822-kilometer roads with PHP35.93 billion budget and construction of by-pass and diversion roads/missing links/new roads with PHP63.77 billion.

The DPWH has also PHP29.66 billion for the widening, replacement, retrofitting, repair/rehabilitation and construction of new bridges next year.

“Bridges remain an important backbone of our infrastructure investments,” Duterte said.

A total of PHP56.65 billion is allocated for asset preservation program to keep the roads in good condition while PHP101.91 billion will be spent for flood management program including the PHP72.74-billion drainage systems.

Since Metro Manila contributes at least 35 percent to the Philippine economy, DPWH has allotted PHP25.2 billion for the construction of 35-km Metro Manila subway project while PHP2 billion will be used to build 17 more stations of Pasig River Ferry Convergence Program.

Duterte also emphasized the need to build more infrastructure projects outside Metro Manila to spur economic activities in the rural areas.

For Luzon area, the projects include the 56-km PHP4.6-billion Philippine National Railways (PNR) South Commuter project from Solis, Tondo to Los Banos in Laguna; the 38-km PHP14.04-billion PNR North 1 Project that will have 10 stations from Tutuban in Manila to Malolos, Bulacan; the PHP17-billion Chico River Pump Irrigation System; PHP875-million Lower Agno River Irrigation System Extension Project in Pangasinan; and PHP311-million Bongabong River Irrigation Project in Oriental Mindoro.

The listed projects for Visayas, on the other hand, are the PHP754 million will go to New Bohol (Panglao) International Airport; PHP450 million for Catbalogan airport in Samar; PHP50 million for Tacloban airport in Leyte; PHP282 million for New Cebu International Container Port Project; PHP75 million for rehabilitation and improvement of various ports and wharves.

Mindanao also stands to receive PHP2.9 billion for construction of Mindanao Railway Project; PHP500 million for the Siargao Airport; PHP315 million for the Davao International Airport; PHP400 million for Malitubog-Maridagao Irrigation Project Phase II in North Cotabato; PHP300 million Sapalan River Irrigation Project in Maguindanao; and, PHP92 million for the Central Mindanao (M’lang) airport.

On the other hand, the bulk of the allocation for the DOTr, PHP24.6 billion, will fund its various railway projects.

DOTr has also allotted PHP2.2 billion for improvement of airports and PHP627 million for sea transport primarily for implementation of Phase 2 of the PHP330-million Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project.

In a bid to make 145 cities throughout the country livable, sustainable and inclusive, Duterte said his administration will continue investing in the infrastructure development outside Metro Manila.

He said some PHP11.7 billion will be provided for the Assistance to Municipalities, basically to fund local access roads, local bridges, sanitation and health facilities, and potable water system projects, among others.

Likewise, some PHP8.2 billion will be set aside for Conditional Matching Grant to Provinces (CMGP) to pave, repair, and improve around 500km of provincial roads.

With number of Filipino internet users to hit 70 million in 2018, the Duterte administration also continued to investment in information technology (IT) infrastructure projects.

A total of PHP1.2 billion and PHP280 million has been allotted for free internet wife access in public places and state universities and colleagues, respectively, while PHP177 million for National Government Data Center and PHP43 million for National Broadband Plan in 2019. (PNA)