MANILA, Philippines – It was a project promised by President Ferdinand Marcos and later approved by President Fidel Ramos. Now the Aquino administration takes pride in finally beginning construction of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) toll road 4 (TR4) project.
The SLEX -TR4 project, worth P13.1 billion ($292.6 million), will extend the expressway from Sto Tomas town in Batangas to Lucena City in Quezon. It involves the construction of a 58-kilometer, 4-lane toll road.
On Monday, March 23, President Benigno Aquino III was briefed on the project and other major road projects in Southern Tagalog before he delivered a speech.
He said that by cutting travel time, the project will bring relief and assistance to those from Quezon. “The goal of this project is to hasten transportation and to bring progress not just to Manila but also to neighboring towns,” he said.
He added, “Once it is completed, the trip from Sto Tomas to Lucena that used to take 4 hours will only take one hour.”
Section 1 of the project runs from Sto Tomas, Batangas, to Macban, Laguna (10.51km); Section 2 from Macban to San Pablo, Laguna (12.2 km); Section 3 from San Pablo, Laguna, to Tiaong, Quezon (8.1 km); Section 4 from Tiaong to Candelaria, Quezon (14.4 km); and Section 5 from Candelaria to Lucena, Quezon (12.31 km).
The project was made possible through the government’s partnership with the private sector, specifically San Miguel Corporation and Citra Metro Manila Tollways Corporation. In his speech, Aquino praised SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang, who he said “truly helped in uplifting the nation.”
SMC announced it has earmarked P168 billion for all its toll road projects, including the SLEX extension.
Aquino also said the SLEX-TR4 is only a part of the High Standard Highway Network, which aims to build a continuous transport network. He added that the developments show the effects of good governance wherein “there is no stalling the progress of our infrastructure.”
“The truth is, the budget of this sector in 2010 when I still wasn’t in power was P165 billion ($3.69 billion). It has increased over 3 times this year, with the budget now at P562.3 billion ($12.6 billion). In 2016, it is our target to further increase it to P787.19 billion ($17.58 billion). It has risen without us increasing taxes,” he said.
Aquino also credited Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson for his “leadership” and “changing the image of the DPWH,” which used to be a source of corruption.
In a statement released by Malacañang also on Monday, the Palace said the road projects “are made possible through the influx of investments that comes with growing international confidence in the country.” – Rappler.com
*US$1 = P44.78