MANILA – Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade on Monday highlighted the gains delivered by the agency to the Filipino people since the start of the Duterte administration in 2016.
In his speech during Duterte Legacy Summit at the PICC in Pasay City, Tugade said in a span of six years, the DOTr has completed 250 airport and aviation projects, 1,200 kilometers (km) of completed and ongoing railway projects, 579 completed and 163 ongoing maritime projects, and many other projects in road transport and various transportation sectors.
He said these projects are in response to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s marching order to “make the Filipino life comfortable and convenient,” despite the country’s transport infrastructure being behind by “50 years” then.
“The DOTr had to take small hanging fruits, medium-term, and long-term plans,” Tugade said.
These low-hanging fruits, he said, include addressing the backlog of plate numbers and driver’s licenses at the Land Transportation Office (LTO), the “laglag-bala (dropped ammo), bukas-bagahe (open baggage)” and other issues at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
“NAIA was called ‘one of the worst international airports in the world.’ One year in, it became one of the most improved airports in the world,” Tugade said.
Part of the medium and long-term plans, he said, are the 250 completed airport projects that included the repair, rehabilitation, and creation of new airports and facilities.
These newly completed and rehabilitated airports included the Clark International Airport (CRK) and its new “world-class” Terminal 2, the “scenic” Bicol International Airport, Mactan-Cebu International Airport, Bohol-Panglao International Airport, and Zamboanga International Airport, among others.
He said the DOTr improved the country’s satellite communications system and introduced the night rating of airports.
“When we started, we only had nine radar systems in the country. Today, we added 10 more. We have protected the Philippine aerial territory and jurisdiction so that traveling will not only be convenient, it will become more predictable,” Tugade said.
To date, he said more than 10 airports have also been night-rated, allowing their continued operation even at night.
In the railway sector, he highlighted the rehabilitation of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3), the completion of the Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT-2) East Extension, the ongoing construction of the MRT-7, the Metro Manila Subway, and the Common Station—with the last three projects all set to be partially operational this year.
Other ongoing rail projects include the Philippine National Railways (PNR) Clark Phase 1, the PNR Bicol, and Mindanao Railways—with all three seen to have partial operability by 2025.
In the maritime sector, he said half of all finished projects were built by the DOTr, with the other half completed by the Philippine Ports Authority and other DOTr attached agencies.
These port projects included the Salomague cruise port in Ilocos Sur, the Port of Puerto Princesa—connected to Malaysia and Indonesia, and many others.
He noted how several passenger terminal buildings built in these ports have passenger capacities reaching 3,000 to 4,000 and are air conditioned.
“Never before in the history of this country has there been a passenger terminal with those capacities,” Tugade said.
In 2016, he said the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) only had around 6,000 personnel.
To date, he said the PCG’s workforce totals 22,400, aside from completing several other projects such as training centers and the acquisition of modern maritime equipment like the two 97-meter multi-role response vessels recently obtained from Japan.
In the road transport and infrastructure sector, he highlighted road ports such as the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s Service Contracting Program, and Libreng Sakay (free ride), the public utility vehicle modernization program, and the creation of bike lanes across the country.
“We may not have solved all the transport problems in six years. We have addressed many. Never before in the history of this country has the DOTr done so much in such a short time… We delivered,” Tugade said. (PNA)