DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 11 March) — Five multi-billion projects in Mindanao under “Build, Build, Build,” a flagship massive infrastructure program of the government, will transform the island into a center for agriculture and industry, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez said.
Dominguez told the Philippine Economic Briefing at the SMX Convention Center Davao on Friday that Mindanao is “at the front and center” of the government’s infrastructure program.
The approved projects include the P5.4-billion Malitubog-Maridagao Irrigation Project Phase 2 in North Cotabato and Maguindanao, which will serve almost 10,000 hectares of land in 56 conflict-affected areas; the P4.86-billion Panguil Bay Bridge project that will connect Tangub City in Misamis Occidental and Tubod, Lanao del Norte, for completion in 2021; the expansion and improvement of the Davao International Airport and Laguindingan Airport Projects worth P40.57-billion and P14.6-billion, respectively, for completion in 2025; and the much-anticipated 102-kilometer Mindanao Railway Project Phase 1, Segment 1 worth P35.26 billion that will connect the cities of Tagum in Davao del Norte, Davao City, and Digos in Davao del Sur.
He said these projects, approved by the National Economic Development Authorit (NEDA) Board, demonstrate “this administration’s commitment to move Mindanao from the margins to make it a center for agriculture and industry.”
President Rodrigo Duterte, who pushed for these projects, is the country’s 16th President and the first Mindanawon to lead the country. The Senate President and House Speaker are also from Mindanao. Dominguez is one of several Mindanawon Cabinet members.
The finance chief said the aggressive infrastructure program aims to link isolated communities with the mainstream of growth.
On top of the government’s infrastructure initiatives, Dominguez added the government also signed a deal with Asian Development Bank (ADB) to help fund other important infrastructure projects in Mindanao.
“The ADB has also been generously assisting us in funding important infrastructure projects that would spur economic development in this island,” he said.
Domignuez said they signed in January this year a loan worth $380 million or to P19.8 billion to develop 280 kilometers of national roads and bridges in Zamboanga Peninsula and Tawi-Tawi and the $70 million or P3.6 billion for Davao Public Transport Modernization Project which is designed to improve public transport infrastructure and services in Davao City.
“This project aims to expand economic opportunities in areas such as agribusiness, ecotourism, and logistics, as well as improve access to markets, jobs, education, and health facilities,” he added.
He said the ADB has also supported government’s major initiatives in Mindanao, including socioeconomic and community development projects with the overall goal of improving the quality of life for the citizens in Mindanao.
Dominguez said the Philippines will host the 51st Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) at the ADB headquarters in Mandaluyong from May 3 to 6, where around 3,000 delegates from the Asia-Pacific and the rest of the world are expected to attend the event.
As host country, Dominguez said the meeting, with a theme “Linking People and Economies for Inclusive Development,” will focus on ways and means to bring developing economies into the mainstream.
“In the course of the deliberations, we hope to craft modes of development interventions that will lead to more inclusive growth. We are doing this in the midst of several large global trends,” Dominguez added. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)