Palace hikes infra budget for Mindanao roads, ports

Subscribe Now August 12, 2013 at 07:47am

President Aquino promised a bigger allocation on infrastructure for Mindanao, both intended to move the mainly perishable agricultural products to the markets, and to prepare the island's agricultural competitiveness in the coming ASEAN economic integration two years ahead.

He said the government has allocated P61.54 billion in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) budget for road, bridge and other infrastructure projects in Mindanao that for the period 2011-2014.

“The good news is: This number will be increasing even more. For 2014 alone, we are proposing to the Congress that the DPWH is set to allocate another P34.29 billion for projects in the region,” he told business leaders in this year’s Mindanao Business Conference held at the SMX Convention Center at SM Lanang Premier.

He said the 2014 budget was “more than half of what has been allocated in the last three years.”

“We have also begun work on major roads in Mindanao, such as the Lake Lanao Circumferential Road Project worth P767 million, which will be completed in February 2015,” he said.

The Department of Transportation and Communications, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and the Philippine Ports Authority “are also in the process of constructing or rehabilitating 15 airports and 46 ports; and this is not including the Laguindingan Airport, which finally began operations a few months ago, after being put off for 22 years,” the President said.

He said the infrastructure activities were meant “to see a Mindanao economy no longer stifled by a lack of proper roads, ports, or airports.”

“Our efforts at improving transport infrastructure do not just help farmers and local industries; they also have a profound effect on tourism,” Mr. Aquino added.

As what he had been telling groups in Mindanao in his sorties, he said Mindanao was “blessed with natural gifts that lend themselves not just to sightseeing, but to diving and surfing and many other activities that tourists would enjoy.”

“And the airports, ports and roads we have constructed are already doing their part to open Mindanao’s attractions up to the rest of the country and the rest of the world,” he said.

To his administration he credited such highly successful campaigns as his Department of Tourism’s “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign, which he said has already made a tangible impact on Mindanao, increasing foreign travelers in the region by 14.55 percent from 2010 to 2011.”

Mindanao saw almost 150,000 more domestic travelers in 2011 compared to 2010. “And we fully expect that when the 2012 data comes out, these numbers will have increased further.”

He said “having more tourists—both domestic and foreign—experienced the true richness and beauty of Mindanao will make every visitor a positive advocate of peace, progress and stability.”

Making reference to the theme of the Mindanao Business Conference on Association of Southeast Asian Nations integration, Mr. Aquino also said “there is no one way to realize the potential that Mindanao has always possessed: It is a pursuit that must be done through the integration of a wide range of industries.”

“It must involve the participation of different stakeholders. Addressing all these issues is the only way to truly accelerate the growth of this region so that people can talk not just about its potential, but also about its vibrancy in the here and now,” he said.

“All these efforts will likewise sufficiently prepare Mindanao for Asean Integration. The vision here is also to create a Mindanao that can compete within the Asean community,” he said.


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