ESPRESSO MORNINGS

By Joe Zaldarriaga

In his speech at the President’s Night conducted by the Manila Overseas Press Club at the Sofitel Plaza last week, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. emphasized the need to sustain and expand the country’s infrastructure program as a means to support growth for the now-recovering Philippine economy.

Marcos Jr. renewed his promise that his “Build Better More” agenda will build on Duterte’s legacy program “Build, Build, Build,” and create and complete more infrastructure projects in his term.

Under his own infrastructure program, Filipinos will expect grander and more ambitious projects not only to provide convenience to commuters and support mobilization, but also to generate employment for more Filipinos.

Early this month, Marcos graced two of the country’s big-ticket infrastructure projects—the groundbreaking rites for the construction of the Ortigas and Shaw Boulevard stations of the Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) and the launching of the Clark International Airport in Mabalacat City, Pampanga.

MMSP is a multi-billion project spanning a 33-kilometer route and covers 17 stations from North Avenue in Quezon City to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City. The subway will use a fleet of 80 eight-car train sets sourced from Japan, with each set supposedly able to carry as many as 2,242 passengers. Once completed and fully operational, the project is expected to cut travel time to only 35 minutes from one hour at present.

Marcos Jr. also recently graced the official opening of the Clark International Airport -- a facility expected to be a key contribution in the country’s goal to becoming a logistics center of Asia.

The development of the 110,000-square-meter new terminal building aims to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Metro Manila and targets to service around eight million passengers annually.

Aside from the Clark Airport and Metro Manila subway, some of the projects that will be implemented include the North-South Commuter Railway, and Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 Cavite Extension Project. Also linked to the BBM program are more specific infrastructure initiatives such as the Network Development Program, Asset Preservation Program and Bridge Program.

Cognizant of the challenges though, Marcos highlighted the need for “unity” -- the battlecry of his administration since the beginning of the campaign, by strengthening partnerships with other countries as well as the private sector for the achievement of these goals.

“In the uncertain times that we are facing, these partnerships will stabilize our transformation into the post-pandemic, new global economy. And it is an uncertain world that we are facing, and it is an uncertain future that makes those partnerships all the more important,” he said.

“No man is an island” -- this is how I describe the president’s call for unity for the growth of our country. Even in achieving this goal, the public sector cannot do it all by itself in the same way that the private sector cannot prosper without the support from the government.

The private sector can be the engine of development, innovation and job creation, but the firepower that propels it should be the government, whose main function is to develop, secure and support business environments through sound and strong policies and laws.

Similarly, there is a need for the Philippines to continue strengthening relationships with other countries, as this will bolster trade and lure foreign investments that are both major contributors to the country’s gross domestic product.

Seamless collaboration and collective action are imperative to the fulfillment of programs that will benefit the country and the people. But ultimately, these partnerships must be supported by concrete decisions, stronger policies, and initiatives to promote growth for both businesses and the economy.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Office of the Press Secretary.

About the Columnist

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Joe Zaldarriaga is a veteran, award-winning communicator immersed in public service within and beyond the energy sector. He has more than 30 years of experience serving the country’s biggest electric distribution utility and is involved in a number of public service functions, as member of various committees on public safety, power supply security and electrification. Concurrently, he is a prominent figure in the Philippine communications industry, as Chairman and Past President of the US-based International Association of Business Communicators Philippines (IABC PH). He is also an awardee of the University of Manila’s Medallion of Honor (Dr. Mariano V. delos Santos Memorial) and a Scroll of Commendation, a testament to his celebrated years in public service exemplified by outstanding communications.

Joe also shares his opinion and outlook on relevant national and consumer issues as a columnist in several prominent publications and is now venturing into new media via hosting a new vlog called Cup of Joe. Previously, Joe was a reporter and desk editor of a Broadcasting Company and the former auditor of the Defense Press Corps of the Philippines. A true green Lasalian, he finished with a degree in Asian Studies specializing in the Japan Studies program at De La Salle University, Manila, where he also spent his entire education.