(File photo)

MANILA – Strengthening infrastructure programs of the government will help jumpstart the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, an official of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said on Friday.

DPWH Undersecretary Maria Catalina Cabral said multi-billion projects of the Duterte administration under the 'Build. Build. Build.' (BBB) program will help create jobs and provide inclusive growth to boost up the economy in the midst of the health crisis.

“Infrastructure development remains the best driver of economic growth. Now that we are starting to rebuild our communities, we lean on infrastructure buildup to jumpstart our economy. With it’s multiplying effect in terms of employment and inclusive growth, the government is strengthening the 'Build Build Build' program to revitalize the economy from Covid-19 pandemic,” Cabral said during the “The Virtual Presser - Recharge PH” program of the Office of the Global Media and Public Affairs under the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).

In particular, she cited the Department of Tourism (DOT)-DPWH Convergence program or the Tourism Road Infrastructure Program (TRIP) as among BBB projects that will help revitalize the local economy.

Cabral reported that a total of PHP120 billion was allocated from 2016 to 2021 for the construction, improvement, and upgrading of about 4.147 km of roads leading to declared tourism destinations.

“As of September 2020, 2,168 kilometers of tourism raids were completed,” she added.

She added that said the expansion projects of highways and expressways in some parts of the country will not only give way to regional economic development but also contribute to social growth.

“Due to reduced travel time, Filipinos will be able to visit their loved ones and friends more often. The government will build and lay the groundwork for the 1,049 kilometers of new high standard highest and expressway in Luzon, Cebu, and Davao with a total estimated investment cost of PHP776 billion,” she added.

Cabral said among them is the Luzon Spine Expressway Network Program, one of the game-changing projects of the government. A total of 905 km of high standard highways/expressways are targeted to be implemented/constructed in Luzon, which is about twice the 382 kilometer of existing expressways. The Php633 billion priority program of the government aims to reduce travel time between Ilocos and Bicol from 20 hours to just 9 hours.

She reported that the final section of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union expressway, Phase II of the Arterial Road Bypass Project, NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10 & C3-R10 Section, NAIAX Phase II and the main trunk line of Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 have been completed.

Also, a total of PHP11.6 billion has been allocated from 2016 to 2020 for the construction of some 317 evacuation centers as part of the country’s resiliency against disasters and effects of climate change.

“A total of 85 regional evacuation centers were also utilized as health/quarantine facilities p, capable of providing health monitoring and monitoring due to Covid-19,” she said. (PNA)