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PBBM cites inter-island bridges as keys to economic boost

ILOILO CITY (PIA) -- One of the primary thrusts of the present administration is the expansion of infrastructure development initiatives across the country through investing in high-impact priority projects. 

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. emphasized this key strategy in his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 24, as it plays a crucial role in driving economic growth in the Philippines.

With this, the present administration has pursued the inception of the “Build Better More” Program to expand the previous administration’s Build, Build, Build (BBB) Program and to address some inadequacies of the country’s infrastructure that affect national development.

“We are opening up all gateways to mobilize goods and services at less cost and in less time, and ultimately, to drive the economy forward. Our road network plans must link not only our three major islands, but all prospective sites of economic development,” Marcos emphasized.

A perspective design of the Panay-Guimaras-Negros (PGN) Island Bridges Project under the present administration’s “Build Better More” Program. (Photo Courtesy of Department of Public Works and Highways)

He further cited that the P8.3-trillion Build Better More Program is currently in progress and being vigorously implemented, comprising at least 123 projects nationwide.

“Hindi lamang natin ipinagpapatuloy ang mga nasimulan nang mga proyekto. Lalo pa nating pinapalawak. Kaya naman, ang isangdaan at dalawampu’t tatlong proyekto dito sa Build Better More program ay bago,” added Marcos. 

The infrastructure program  notably includes the Panay-Guimaras-Negros (PGN) Island Bridges, spanning an impressive 32 kilometers.

These bridges hold the promises of bringing extensive benefits across the islands of Western Visayas.

The PGN is just among the 12 bridges totaling 90 kilometers that will be constructed under the Mega-Bridge Program component to connect the islands and areas of the country separated by waters.

Several local chief executives and lawmakers in the region lauded the President’s assurance that the PGN bridges were among the priority projects of his administration. 

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas expressed his gratitude to the President for highlighting the PGN bridges in his second SONA. 

The mayor considers these bridges as “very important projects” that will undoubtedly have a significant role on  the lives of the people in Western Visayas as a whole, with particular emphasis on the residents  of Iloilo City. 

“The Panay-Negros-Guimaras Bridge has long been a dream for us. With this coming to fruition, ease of transportation, dynamic movement of goods and services, and much enhanced economic and tourism activities are assured,” said Treñas.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. delivers his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City on July 24, 2023. (Screenshot from RTVM)

As the President stressed, inter-modal connectivity will also be a primary consideration as infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges and mass transport systems are viewed to provide access to vital and bustling economic markets, such as agriculture hubs, tourism sites, and key business districts.

Iloilo CIty Mayor Jerry P. Treñas conveys his reaction for the second SONA of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on July 24, 2023. (Photo Courtesy of Jerry P. Treñas Facebook page)

“Iloilo City, being the regional hub of Western Visayas, stands to benefit from these high-impact projects,” Treñas added.

Meanwhile, representatives from Negros Occidental conveyed their optimism towards the infrastructure development efforts of the Marcos Administration.

In a news release, 2nd District representative of Negros Occidental Alfredo Marañon III said he is very hopeful for the country with the President’s announcement of the creation of more jobs, putting emphasis on agriculture and fisheries, together with the increased infrastructure spending and the inflation going down to two to three percent.

This was backed by Negros Occidental 5th District Representative Emilio Bernardino Yulo, who was elated that the PGN bridges were prominently mentioned in the President’s SONA, and was also supported by the said province’s 6th District representative Mercedes Alvarez, citing that it is good news for Negros that the President has highlighted PGN bridges as one of his administration’s major projects.

To note, PGN Island Bridges’ Detailed Engineering Design (DED) procurement process began in May 2022 and was completed in June 2023.

Another perspective design of the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Island Bridges. (Photo Courtesy of Department of Public Works and Highways)

In the recent Regional Development Council (RDC) 6 meeting, it was reported that the DED phase of the PGN Island Bridges will take place from July this year to March 2025, which will be followed with the acquisition of the road right-of-way, from July 2024 to September 2025.

The construction of the PGN bridges is scheduled for five years, starting from 2026 to 2030 wherein the government will provide a $3 million counterpart, representing five percent of the total project cost, for taxes and management expenses.

Marcos also mentioned in his speech that the country’s infrastructure spending will stay at 5 to 6 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Currently, only the PGN’s DED is financed, but other project components will follow a co-financing approach as multiple financing institutions have expressed their interest in funding the project, according to the RDC 6 report.

The PGN bridges are among the flagship projects that cover investments in the areas of physical connectivity infrastructure including roads, bridges, seaports, airports, and mass transport, accounting to at least 83 percent of the Build Better More Program.

With the construction of inter-island bridges such as PGN, the present administration envisions to build a stronger economy, more efficient trade, booming tourism, added foreign investments, and more resilient infrastructure to improve the quality of life of all Filipinos. (EAD/AGP/PIA 6)

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April Grace Padilla

Information Officer II

Region 6

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