DPWH identifies more priority PPP projects

Workers are seen at a construction site in Manila. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ RUSSELL PALMA

THE DEPARTMENT of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has identified more priority public-private partnership (PPP) projects for implementation, including expressways in Cebu and Central Luzon.

In an advisory published in a newspaper over the weekend, the DPWH said it added 10 more to its list of priority PPP projects proposed for implementation.

The list includes the P12.6-billion Central Luzon Link Expressway (CLLEX) Phase 11, which will link Cabanatuan City to San Jose City in Nueva Ecija and the P56.9-billion Metro Cebu Expressway.

A PPP project is a service or business venture that is funded, constructed, and operated through a partnership between the government and the private sector. This financing mode is preferred if the government has limited resources to invest in important infrastructure projects.

Public Works Secretary Manuel M. Bonoan has said that the Marcos administration will work to entice more investors in its infrastructure program through PPPs.

To recall, former President Rodrigo R. Duterte had steered clear of PPPs which was preferred by the Aquino administration, due to allegedly disadvantageous provisions such as state subsidies and sovereign guarantees.

The DPWH also identified as a priority the P12.45-billion improvement, operation and maintenance of Kennon Road, a major access road leading to Benguet province.

Other PPP projects identified by the DPWH are the P44.6-billion North Luzon Expressway East Phase II, a 91.10-kilometer (km) expressway that is seen to enhance the transport network in North Luzon; the 15-km Floating Bridge, which will link Mindoro Island to Batangas; and the 226.5-km Pacific-Eastern Seaboard Expressway from Atimonan in Quezon to Dinagalan, Aurora.

Projects in Luzon include the 180-km Pangasinan-Nueva Ecija Expressway from Bolinao, Pangasinan, to San Jose City, Nueva Ecija; and the 190-km Dingalan-Capas-Botolan Expressway, an east-west toll road that is expected to expedite travel from Botolan, Zambales via Capas, Tarlac to Dingalan, Aurora and vice versa.

An expressway that aims to connect the provinces of Iloilo, Capiz, and Aklan was identified as a priority PPP project in the Visayas.

For Mindanao, the DPWH said the Naawan-Opol-Cagayan de Oro City-Villanueva Expressway is a priority project.

Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno, who served as Budget secretary and was central bank governor under the Duterte administration, said at a Palace briefing last week that the PPP mode was not adopted in the previous government because “there were no available (PPP) projects ready for implementation.”

“Now, we are able to develop some… projects, ready to go, so if there are some private sector interests, we will welcome that,” he added.

At a press briefing on Friday, Mr. Diokno said that “there are some airports (that) we can actually offer… for unsolicited or solicited proposals.”

“For example, in Bohol. We constructed the Bohol International Airport. I think it will significantly improve the operations and management of the airport if the private sector will run it. We might consider giving it to the private sector,” he added.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan has said the Marcos government “will invigorate our public-private partnership thrust to building infrastructure.”

“We… believe this private sector can bring in innovations, technologies in the improvement and management in our public services. There is much that can be gained from getting the private sector involved in our infrastructure development,” he said in a Bloomberg TV interview in June.

The government has set aside P1.199 trillion, or 5.5% of the gross domestic product, for its infrastructure program this year.

The Marcos administration is targeting an infrastructure spending-to-GDP ratio of 5-6% annually. — Arjay L. Balinbin