Increased government spending on infrastructure development fueled by a comprehensive tax reform program enabled the government to build critical infrastructure projects that benefit the people, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said on Monday.
In his last State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Duterte said that upon assuming office, he made it sure to increase the government infrastructure spending to an average of five percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), significantly higher than his predecessors.
“Thanks to the comprehensive tax reform program that enabled us to fund critical infrastructure projects. Today, we can see the tangible results all around,” he said.
Among these projects is the MRT-3, which was a horror for daily commuters with its frequent breakdowns. With the improvements, MRT-3 now runs 23 trains at 60 kilometers per hour, he said.
Another one is the LRT-2 East Extension Project that has extended Line 2 by adding two more stations. Travel time between Manila and Antipolo was reduced from the usual two or three hours to only just 40 minutes.
Through a partnership with the private sector, the Duterte government was able to open Stage 3 of the Metro Manila Skyway in January this year, decongesting EDSA and other major roads in Metro Manila.
The government also inaugurated on Independence Day last month the Kalayaan Bridge, which is part of the BGC-Ortigas Center Link Project, reducing the usual one hour travel time between the two business districts to just 12 minutes.
“Beyond Metro Manila, we are pursuing several high-impact projects that will be completed within my term and perhaps in the following years,” the President said.
This month, the President inspected the newly built passenger terminal building of the Clark International Airport, a new and modern passenger terminal equipped with the latest state-of-the-art technology.
The facility can accommodate eight million passengers a year, alleviate air traffic congestion at the NAIA airport, as well as serve as a major growth driver and gateway for Northern and Central Luzon.
Other completed projects were the Poro Point Freeport Zone Road in La Union, and the Junction Lanao-Pagadian-Zamboanga City Road.
Meanwhile, projects under construction include the Sorsogon City Coastal By-Pass Road to be completed by the end of 2021 and the Davao City Coastal Road, which will be completed by 2023.
“We have inaugurated new highways, roads and skyways. We have bought new trains. These are all testament that we have greatly eased the grueling experience of traveling and commuting,” the President said.
“And to sustain our momentum in infrastructure development, I have directed the DPWH, DOTr, NEDA, Department of Finance and DBM to be on full speed to ensure that our flagship projects will be completed within my term, especially those that would help disperse economic activity outside the densely populated Metro Manila.”
The President asked the LGUs and the private sector partners to help his administration in speeding up the construction of flagship infrastructure projects for the benefit of the people.
President Duterte also reported that his government has worked towards giving travelers greater convenience by extending the validity of Philippine passports to 10 years. This lessened the burden of international travelers and OFWs as a result.
Aside from addressing the three million backlog of driver’s licenses in 2016, the chief executive said his government has extended the validity of driver’s license to five years, and will begin issuing drivers’ licenses with a 10-year validity to qualified drivers.
At the same time, the President said the government has streamlined government processes, after Congress passed the Ease of Doing Business Act in 2018.
Government transactions will be further streamlined with the roll-out of the Philippine Identification System or the PhilSys through the Philippine Identification System Act, he added.
The President said his administration has ensured the modification of the Salary Schedule for Civilian Government Personnel through the Salary Standardization Law 5, a necessary measure for civil servants to recognize their work and accomplishments as well as a gesture of gratitude and good will.
The President said the Central Business Portal will elevate the country’s global standing in doing business and improve its competitiveness.
Launched earlier this year, the business portal is a single site for all business-related transactions such as securing business permits, licenses, and clearances. PND