November 23, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Mindanao to get P18B in projects under DPWH budget for 2018

DAVAO CITY -- P18 billion worth of projects under the proposed 2018 budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is allocated for Mindanao, according to Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Deputy Executive Director Romeo M. Montenegro.

In a forum with the media last week, Mr. Montenegro, said the projects were identified under a joint planning and programming between MinDA and DPWH.

“Fifteen (existing) projects were given continuing allocation and then another 15 new projects for 2018. Overall that’s a total of P18 billion for 2018 with DPWH,” he said.

The infrastructure projects cover mainly roads, bridges, and flood control.

The government’s Executive branch approved last week the proposed P3.767-trillion budget for 2018, of which 25.4% is allocated for “infrastructure and capital outlays.” The proposal will be submitted to Congress on July 24, when President Rodrigo R. Duterte delivers his 2nd State of the Nation Address.

Mr. Montenegro said the DPWH allocation does not include the Digos-Davao-Tagum segment of the planned Mindanao Railway System, which is under the  Department of Transportation (DoTr).

The 105-kilometer segment covering three cities in Davao Region, with an estimated cost of P31.5 billion, has been approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board.

Mr. Montenegro said they are also scheduling a joint planning and programming meeting with the DoTr to discuss the lineup for ports, airports and other development projects.

“Mindanao railway is with DoTR and what we understand, definitely the sections of Tagum-Davao-Digos is going to be the first one to be implemented,” he said.

Mr. Montenegro also said MinDA is preparing to undertake “investment missions” and trade promotions to give business groups a “context on the overall Mindanao situation” given reservations arising from the Marawi siege and the declaration of martial law in the south.

MinDa’s message, he said, would be “that the rest of Mindanao is still the ‘go to areas’ for specific investments because the production side (particularly agriculture) has not been affected for many economic activities.”

“In the services sector, well obviously affected is the tourism, but all other economic activities have remained generally business as usual, and this is where we are putting forward specific efforts now to bring back confidence of investors,” he said. -- Maya M. Padillo