Biz leaders hope for more high-impact projects for Mindanao in last half of Duterte’s term

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /21 July) –Business leaders hope to hear from President Rodrigo Duterte on his 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday that he will launch more high-impact plans and projects for the island in the last remaining half of his administration.

Arturo Millan, President of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII) said he has many hopes for Duterte, the first Mindanawon President, and chief among them are the completion of massive infrastructure projects that his administration promised to accomplish before he steps down on June 30, 2022.

A Philippine Airlines plane taxis along the runway of the Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao City. File photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

He said the business sector wants to see the construction of Phase 1 of the 1,550-kilometer Mindanao Railway Project, modernization project of the F. Bangoy International Airport, and the decades-old plan on the Davao City-Island Garden City of Samal Bridge Project this year.

“I also wish the President good health so he will finish his term and complete his plans for the country and for the Filipino people,” he said.

Vicente Lao, chair of the Mindanao Business Council echoed the same sentiments and hoped to see the first phase of the Mindanao railway completed before Duterte’s term ends.

The National Economic and Development Authority-Board’s Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee (ICC-CabCom) approved on July 10 this year the increase in the estimated cost of the Tagum-Davao-Digos cities line of the railway project from P35.9 billion to P82.9 billion.

The increase was intended to cover cost for the changes in the project scope included changing from a single track to dual track railway; from diesel to electrified railway with 25 kV electrified overhead for the catenary system transmission of electrical energy to the trains wherein the wires are situated above the rails and 26 electrical multiple units; from 102-km. fully at-grade railway to 100 km railway with viaduct for the 26-km. elevated portion; and addition of the satellite depot in Davao City aside from main depot to be located in Tagum City.

Before his election as President in 2016, Duterte served as OIC Vice Mayor from 1986 to 1987, was elected Mayor for three terms from 1988 to 1998, Representative of the first district from 1998 to 2001, Mayor from 2001 to 2010, Vice Mayor to his daughter-Mayor from 2010 to 2013, and Mayor from 2013 until 2016.

Davao City’s skyline. MindaNews file photo by  CAROLYN O. ARGUILLAS

Stephen Antig, Executive Director of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA)  said on Saturday that he hopes the Duterte agriculture would pour in more support for the agricultural sector, especially for the country’s top agricultural exports, provide more subsidies for farm inputs like fertilizers, and remove or reduce some government fees for agricultural products.

But he lauded signing of a deal between the Philippine government and South Korean government reducing the tariff on agricultural exports such as Cavendish bananas from 30% to 5% in November.

“Hopefully, this should increase sales and demand for our bananas due to lower costs of the fruits,” he said.

Nathaniel Dalumpines, OIC chair of the Mindanao Development Authority said he expects that Mindanao “where so much still needs to be done, to get as much focus under this administration.”

He said he looks forward to hearing directives from the President that will effect a long-term and inclusive development for Mindanao, particularly his ongoing support for the revival of cross border trading between Mindanao and its neighbors in the Brunei, Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area.

“Based on the highlights from the pre-SONA forums conducted this month, this administration remains focused on providing a comfortable life for every Filipino, by providing more jobs and opportunities, prioritizing catalytic infrastructure projects, and bringing development closer to the countryside,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)

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