(PNA photo by Robinson Niñal Jr.)

MANILA – President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Monday said his administration is eyeing to pursue “grander” and “more ambitious” infrastructure projects to create jobs, improve connectivity, and provide convenience to Filipino commuters.

Marcos made this remark during the groundbreaking rites for the construction of the Ortigas and Shaw Boulevard stations of the Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) at Metrowalk Commercial Complex in Pasig City.

“Let the breaking ground of this subway system signal our intention to the world to pursue even grander dreams and more ambitious endeavors that will bring comfort and progress to our people all over the country,” Marcos said in his speech.

He reassured the public of his administration’s commitment to not only continue but also expand the government’s infrastructure program.

“Be assured that this administration will take the lead in identifying, pursuing, and implementing projects as part of the Build Better More Infrastructure Agenda that we have laid out,” he added.

Marcos also expressed hope that Filipinos’ aspirations for a “better, brighter, and more prosperous” country enkindle their purpose to work for the nation’s advancement.

‘Small inconveniences’

Meanwhile, Marcos said he looked forward to “brighter days” once the construction of the MMSP’s two stations is completed.

“Although it is a given that the construction of these structures will take time and cause disruption, let us be optimistic and just count these small inconveniences as a small price to pay for the fruitful results that this program, this project will yield,” he said.

He expressed hope that the project would be completed as scheduled so that the public may soon enjoy its benefits.

With the MMSP, Marcos said his administration anticipates helping people “skip long lines of traffic” and spare themselves from the “perils of commuting.”

He said the government also sees more business opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors, as well as additional economic activity with the improved linkages of key areas and business districts in the Metro and the availability of stalls and other stores in the stations and nearby markets.

“As our people gain more time by cutting long hours of travel, they can now engage in more worthwhile and productive endeavors, making time for greater self-improvement or equally important spending quality time with their families,” he said.

Joining Marcos at the event were Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Ambassador Kazuhiko Koshikawa; Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) chief representative Takema Sakamoto; Senators Grace Poe, JV Ejercito, and Mark Villar; and Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto

The MMSP is a foreign-assisted project under the Official Development Assistance program and funded by the JICA.

Silencing doubters

Villar, secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) under the Duterte administration when the project was conceptualized, said many were doubtful at first.

"But here we are here today, realizing the project that has come to fruition. This world-class subway only proves that we can be on par with other developed countries,” Villar said in an interview.

Villar said he is glad that President Marcos’ “Build, Better, More” program will continue the country’s “Golden Age of Infrastructure” and carry on the “Build, Build, Build” programs of the previous administration.

"Continuity is very significant in terms of infrastructure development in the country,” he said.

As DPWH secretary, Villar said he envisioned the MMSP as efficient, operational and resilient considering that it will use Japanese technology.

"Inaasahan natin na ang (We are expecting that the) Metro Manila Subway ay maghahatid sa ating mga (will bring our) commuters sa mas mabilis na oras sa kanilang destinasyon. Ang dating matagal na oras na inilalaan sa biyahe ay mas mailalalaan na sa pamilya (at a faster time to their destination. The longer time they allot to travel can be spent with their families),” Villar said.

Once operational, the subway can accommodate more than 370,000 passengers a day and reduce the usual travel time of nearly two hours from Valenzuela to Bicutan to just 45 minutes.

Road closures will take effect until 2028 and will cover the front section of Capitol Commons up to the corner of Shaw Boulevard. (PNA)