Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Manuel M. Bonoan provided the updates of key infrastructure development projects in the Philippines under Official Development Assistance (ODA) of the Government of Japan in a bilateral discussion held at Meiji Kinenkan Chitose Hall in Tokyo, Japan.
Secretary Bonoan together with Senior Undersecretary Emil K. Sadain and Project Directors Ramon A. Arriola III and Benjamin A. Bautista of Unified Project Management Office (UPMO) operations represented the DPWH delegation during the 14th Philippines-Japan High-Level Joint Committee Meeting on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation on August 28, 2023.
This is the first High-Level Meeting hosted by Japan since the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.
A Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation was established in 2017 in order to monitor the implementation of cooperation projects toward Philippines’ nation-building.
Other than the DPWH, the Philippine delegation consisted of agency heads and officials from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), and Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).
Among the flagship infrastructure projects reviewed are the Feasibility Study for the Dalton Pass East Alignment Road and Central Mindanao Highway Construction Project; 2nd San Juanico Bridge Construction Project; EDSA Transport Road Network Rehabilitation Project; Metro Manila Interchange Construction Project; Metro Manila Priority Bridges Seismic Improvement Project; Other On-Going Projects including Road Network Development Project in Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao; Programme for the Support for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Marawi City and Its Surrounding Areas; Arterial Road Bypass Project Phase III; and Cebu-Mactan Bridge (4th Bridge) and Coastal Road Construction Project.
Also discussed with the Japanese officials headed by Special Advisor to the Prime Minister Dr. Mori Masafumi are updates for the tunnel operation and maintenance for the Davao Bypass and Dalton Road Projects; project for flood control and drainage in Davao City; and Paranaque Spillway Project.
Senior Undersecretary Sadain said that through the regular meetings, both the Philippine and Japanese government are prompted to deliver on commitments and are encouraged to think of more innovative measures to improve cooperation and facilitate project implementation.
Proposed for JICA ODA, the Dalton Pass East Alignment Road Project is a section of the proposed improvement and upgrading of the Philippine-Japan Friendship Highway, already named as (AH-26) a priority included under the Flagship Projects under the “Build Better More” infrastructure program of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. administration.
The project which aims to ensure safe and seamless travel will involve the construction of 23.0 kilometers 4-lane (2 lanes each direction) bypass road, east of the existing highway.
Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) had already been secured for this project just recently this August 03, 2023.
JICA extended assistance extended in the conduct of the Feasibility Study/Preparatory Survey that was completed in July 2023 with the signing of the Loan Agreement targeted by December 2023 and the commencement of Detailed Engineering Design by early 2024.
Meanwhile, the Feasibility Study funded under JICA Grant assistance for Central Mindanao High Standard Highway Construction Project is ongoing, with the Preliminary Design expected to be completed by September 2023. The JICA Pre-Fact Finding Mission was deployed to the Philippines last August 7-9, 2023.
Per coordination with JICA last June 15, 2023, the procurement of Preparatory Survey Consultant for the project will proceed anytime soon.
The proposed 2nd San Juanico Bridge Project involves the construction of a two (2) – lane arch bridge with a total length of 4.88 km including approaches, which will connect Samar and Leyte Islands and will serve as alternative route to the existing San Juanico Bridge, along the Philippine- Japan Friendship Highway (AH-26) which is projected to be insufficient in carrying traffic in 10 years’ time.
Included under the “Build Better More” program, the proposed EDSA Rehabilitation Project is proposed to be included in the Technical Cooperation Project (TCP) for Large-Scale Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation (LBRR), and was endorsed to NEDA in August 2023 for review and approval.
The massive rehabilitation of EDSA - considered the most important thoroughfare in Metro Manila, was proposed for JICA ODA.
The Japanese Government continuously provided assistance in the development of infrastructures that are integral in the recovery and peace-building within conflict-affected areas in Mindanao such as the Road Network Development Project in Conflict- Affected Areas in Mindanao which covers the development, construction, and improvement of 174.50 kilometers of road network within Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and other-conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.
Currently, construction of the 18.78 km Marawi Trans-Central Road Phase III is ongoing, while the remaining six (6) sub-projects are undergoing detailed engineering design. The project is to be completed by 2028.
Another key ongoing project is the Arterial Road Bypass Project Phase III which includes the widening of the 23.36-km Plaridel Bypass Road, and aims to reduce travel time between Balagtas and San Rafael in Bulacan from 1 hour and 9 minutes to 24 minutes.
The project is at 84.38% overall accomplishment, with two (2) contract packages already completed last July 2021 and April 2023. The remaining two (2) packages are to be completed by March 2024.
For the Davao City Bypass Construction Project that covers the construction of a 4-lane 45.98-km bypass road featuring two (2) 2.3 km mountain tunnels to reduce travel time between Davao City and Panabo City via the Pan-Philippine Highway from 1 hour and 44 minutes to just 49 minutes, civil works for Package I-1 is currently at 35.51% accomplishment while the procurement for civil works for Package I-2 and I-3 is also ongoing.