By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos
MANILA – Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan on Friday said the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board has approved six other key projects, including the proposal to raise the fund for the rehabilitation of Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3).
This, after the NEDA Board, chaired by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., gave its greenlight to the seven projects.
On Thursday, Malacañang already announced that the first public-private partnership (PPP) project approved by the NEDA Board was the proposed construction of a PHP6-billion cancer center at the University of the Philippines (UP)-Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Manila.
On top of the UP-PGH cancer center project, the proposed increase in the cost of the MRT-3 Rehabilitation Project by PHP7.6 billion from PHP21.9 billion to PHP29.6 billion also secured the NEDA Board’s nod, Balisacan said in a Palace press briefing on Friday.
Balisacan said the NEDA Board approved the DOTr’s request for changes in scope, project cost increase, implementation period extension, additional loan and second loan reallocation of the MRT-3 rehabilitation project.
“This project involves upgrading MRT-3 to its original, as designed, state, with provision for capacity expansion in the future. All subsystems will be restored, renewed or upgraded, including the tracks, signaling system, power supply system, overhead catenary system and communication system, as well as maintenance in a station equipment,” he said.
“The project will also involve integrating other MRT-3 related projects such as the common station, the Dalian trains, and the transition to a four-car train configuration. This rehabilitation project aims to enhance the safety and level of service of the MRT-3 and to promote its use to help alleviate the worsening traffic congestion in Metro Manila,” he added.
Balisacan said the NEDA Board also approved the utilization of Japan International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA) PHP2.12-billion loan balance for the Communications, Navigation and Surveillance for Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM).
The NEDA Board, Balisacan said, also confirmed the Investment Coordination Committee’s approval of the Department of Transportation’s PHP17-billion New Dumaguete Airport Development Project, with PHP13 billion of which will be funded through Official Development Assistance (ODA) from the Korean government.
“Under this project, a new airport facility in Bacong, Negros Oriental will be developed with domestic and international standards for operational safety and efficiency. This project will replace the existing Dumaguete-Sibulan Airport due to physical and operational constraints involving the latter,” Balisacan said, noting that the project will be implemented within seven years.
He said the new Dumaguete airport shall enhance the province’s tourism and trade potential economic activities and standard of living.
Agriculture development in Mindanao
The NEDA also approved the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) PHP6.6-billion Mindanao Inclusive Agriculture Development Project (MIADP), which aims to increase agricultural productivity, resiliency and access to markets and services of organized farmers and fisherfolk groups in selected areas, Balisacan said.
He said around PHP5.3 billion of the estimated total cost of the MIADP will be financed through the ODA from the World Bank, while the remaining PHP863.461 million will be shouldered by the DA and the local government units (LGUs).
He said the MIADP covers selected ancestral domains in Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, Soccsksargen, Caraga and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
“The project will be pivotal in reducing poverty, unemployment and food insecurity among indigenous peoples. It will improve the economic situation of the indigenous people in Mindanao and further strengthen the capacity of LGUs (local government units) to implement support programs that address weak market linkages and poor infrastructure in geographically isolated ancestral domains,” he said.
Flood resilience and adaptation
Balisacan said the NEDA Board also gave its approval to the Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) first phase of the Integrated Flood Resilience and Adaptation Project.
He said the project aims to mitigate flood damage, reduce flood risk and improve climate resilience in the country’s three major river basins, including Abra, Ranao and Tagum Libuganon in Mindanao
The project, with an estimated cost of PHP20 billion, is to be financed through an ODA loan from the Asian Development Bank.
Davao public transport
Balisacan said the NEDA Board also approved the DOTR’s request for changes in scope, an increase in cost, and the extension of the implementation period for the Davao Public Transport Modernization Project.
The project, he said, involves delivering a “modern, high priority” bus system for Davao City, wherein interconnected bus services will be prioritized along 29 routes.
“Implementation period for this project is extended from 2023 to 2029,” Balisacan said.
Balisacan said the approval of the “high-impact” projects will play an important factor in attaining the Marcos government’s economic development agenda.
“These projects are expected to significantly contribute to achieving our social and economic transformation goal in the medium term,” he said. (PNA)