MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has taken the limelight in Southeast Asia not only as the host of the ASEAN Summit this year, but also as a center of infrastructure development in the region given the government’s aggressive infrastructure push.
The country’s lead infrastructure agencies said in a press briefing yesterday their respective infrastructure development programs have garnered strong interest from other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
The Duterte administration recently unveiled a three-year rolling infrastructure program amounting to P3.6 trillion from 2018 to 2020 to usher in what is touted as the country’s “golden age” of infrastructure.
“Our ASEAN neighbors are really very keen and interested on the developments that are ongoing in the country. It shows a very keen interest to do business to the Philippines and with the Filipinos,” said Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, citing Indonesia and Malaysia in particular.
Tugade said the General Santos to Bitung, Indonesia shipping route is slated to be launched this Sunday. The link is expected to open up more trade and market opportunities between the two countries.
“Because we have started this, we have initiated talks with the Malaysian Minister for Transportation to replicate the same from Palawan to a point in Malaysia, perhaps Sabah,” Tugade said.
“On specific project with Malaysia, they indicated interest to do an MRT project from UP to Quiapo. This is being studied right now,” he added.
The Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), meanwhile, said it has likewise been receiving strong interest from ASEAN countries, particularly Malaysia and Singapore, for its projects.
“There is tremendous interest, especially in city development, particularly New Clark City. There is particular interest coming from Malaysia and Singapore. These two countries in the ASEAN are now leading in the development of new cites,” BCDA president Vince Dizon said.
“We are very excited about this because I think we can learn a lot from our ASEAN partners and neighbors in terms of how to really develop and plan new cities. This is something where we can learn a lot from and avoid mistakes done in the past and avoid situations like what we have here in Metro Manila,” Dizon added.
New Clark City, formerly know as Clark Green City, is a 9,450-hectare development envisioned as the Philippines’ first smart, green and disaster-resilient city that will showcase the country’s capability to build a sustainable and modern city.
“Speaking for DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways), we have a long-standing relationship with the countries and we hope to improve further. A lot of our most ambitious projects will require transfer of technology, capacity building and this is I think consistent with this year’s theme ‘Engaging the World’ and that’s what we will do. Some our bridge program will require technologies from other countries. Technologies for our flood control will also be coming from other countries,” Secretary Mark Villar said.