By Ferdinand Patinio
MANILA – The Korean government has indicated interest in extending loans to finance at least four projects in Central Luzon and Central Visayas, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said on Friday.
Senior Undersecretary Emil Sadain, in-charge of DPWH infrastructure flagship projects under the “Build, Better, More” program, in a report to Secretary Manuel Bonoan, said the possible cooperation with the Korean government will be under the Economic Development Promotion Facility (EDPF).
He said the enhanced partnership was discussed during the meeting with the Korean fact-finding mission from the national headquarters of Export–Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM) on May 10, at the DPWH main office in Port Area, Manila.
The projects that were initially selected for possible loan co-financing under EDPF and the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) or Export Credit of the Korean government are the 28.82-kilometer (km) Lubao-Guagua-Sasmuan-Minalin-Santo Tomas Bypass Road in Pampanga and the Pampanga Integrated Disaster Risk and Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation (IDRR CCA) – Stage II, which covers the Third River and Eastern Branch that traverses the municipalities of Macabebe, Minalin, and Santo Tomas.
Also, the detailed engineering design and civil works of the 10.6-km. Consolacion-Liloan Bypass Road with two bridges, and the feasibility study of Lapu-Lapu Coastal Road in Cebu.
Cost of the Lubao-Guagua-Sasmuan-Minalin-Santo Tomas Bypass Road is around PHP30.8 billion while the other projects have no indicative cost as of this time.
Sadain said the EDPF is a new Official Development Assistance (ODA) loan program of the Korean government that is eyed to cover financial gap for large-scale infrastructure projects.
He said the Korea Eximbank is an independent ODA agency that has the mandate to operate and manage the EDPF including identifying pipeline projects, loan approval and signing loan agreements.
The meeting between the officials of the DPWH and the Korean government was also attended by DPWH Project Directors Benjamin Bautista and Ramon Arriola III and DPWH Project Managers Jerry Fano and Antonio Erwin Aranaz as well as Director General Chung-Hwa Cho, Director Eunjin Cho, Senior Loan Officer Jiwon Shin of the fact-funding mission; KEXIM Manila Office Country Director Jaejeong Moon, and Deputy Directors Yunhak Lee and Minjeong Kwon.
Meanwhile, the DPWH is targeting to commence by June 2023 the detailed engineering design (DED) activities for the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Island Bridges.
The engineering service of the 32.47-km. Panay-Guimaras-Negros Island Bridges is covered by a USD56.6-million loan from the Korean government.
Once completed, the bridge will shorten travel time of commuters and motorists and transport of goods from Panay to Negros Islands through ferries/RORO from the current three-four hours to just less than an hour. (PNA)