THE Kaliwa Dam New Centennial Metro Manila water supply project has just been awarded its Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) by the DENR despite delays caused by NGOs, while the Chico River dam irrigation project is in the advanced stage of development.
The P175-billion Philippine National Railways (PNR) Long Haul railway project funded by China is expected to be awarded in the last quarter of this year. The two bridges donated by the Chinese government are nearing completion, and several drug rehabilitation centers in Luzon and Mindanao have been finished and now are operational.
The projects that began negotiations as soon as the Duterte administration was inaugurated in 2016 are rolling on as can be expected. Delays experienced had mostly been to domestic regulatory, environmental and political hurdles. The projects in Luzon, called Phase One or Basket One, are beginning to take off. Basket Two in the Visayas and Mindanao are presently on the drawing board.
The visit of China’s Vice-Minister Hu Chunhua occasioned the signing of many of the Phase Two projects focused on the needs of the Philippine South, such as the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Island Bridge, the Davao City Expressway and the Marawi sports-market complex vital to the rehabilitation of the terror-devastated city. Other projects are in communications and trade facilitation, broadcasting equipment and mobile container/vehicle inspection system and CT Scan inspection systems.
Other equally important Phase Two projects are China’s assistance to the Philippine government in crucial communications and trade facilitation equipment in this second phase: broadcasting equipment and mobile container/vehicle inspection system and CT Scan inspection systems.
Some quarters have been either unrealistic or too impatient, but so far China has been proving them wrong as progress in China’s delivery of its promises is steady and on schedule. It seems to be the track record of China in its dealing with developing countries. In the case of Indonesia, the fast train that connects Jakarta and Bandung with top speed of 350 km per hour commenced construction last Sept. 30.
The Kaliwa Dam, when completed, will be the new and reliable source of water for Metro Manila’s burgeoning population. The region’s perennial traffic problem will also be considerably eased by the PNR long haul train project.
Despite the usual delays from local acquisition of rights-of-way and properties that is the role of the domestic partner, the feedback on China-funded and engineered projects is quite satisfactory. The “debt trap” scare has long been debunked and corruption fears addressed firmly by local and Chinese authorities.
The Philippines-China projects are all on a roll, and President Duterte may just prove that his independent foreign policy that pivots toward China is working well for the Filipino people.