MANILA, Philippines – Following a report warning that Metro Manila may become "uninhabitable" due to traffic, Malacañang on Tuesday, January 5, said that the government is continuing to implement various infrastructure projects that are expected to be completed by 2016 or 2017.
In a press briefing, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the transportation department, and other agencies are undertaking various projects in line with the Mega Manila Dream Plan.
The plan aims to improve mobility in Metro Manila and nearby regions, improve public transportation systems, and create new urban centers.
While Coloma gave assurances that the government is also working on short-term solutions – such as the street clearing operations of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and the Highway Patrol Group – he emphasized that improving infrastructure is key to improving quality of life in Metro Manila.
"Hindi kasi uubra ‘yung instant lamang o ‘yung immediate projects. Dahil nga lumalaki ang populasyon natin at dahil nahuli tayo doon sa paglalatag ng mga kinakailangang imprastruktura na hindi nakasabay sa paglago ng populasyon, ay kinakailangang ilatag itong mahahalagang infrastructure projects," he said.
(Implementing only instant or immediate projects won't work. These infrastructure projects need to be put in place because our population is booming, and because we lagged behind in building the necessary infrastructure to keep up with population growth.)
Coloma's statement comes after John Forbes, senior advisor of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said in a Philippine Star report that the megacity is "at risk of becoming uninhabitable" if roads and infrastructure are not upgraded to keep up with the growth in car sales.
While the infrastructure projects won't be finished by the time President Benigno Aquino III steps down from office this year, Coloma said the public should not worry that the change in administration will affect the completion of the projects.
"These won't be affected by the transition on June 30 because they are already being undertaken by respectable contractors with known reputations in the industry," he said.
Should the next administration look into the contracts of the projects, Coloma said he was confident that the contracts will "pass legal scrutiny" as they have been done "in accordance with the principles of good governance."
He added, "Secretary [Rogelio] Singson and the DPWH have been repeatedly commended by the private sector as having exemplified excellent management of our infrastructure development project and there is every reason to acknowledge that they have done their work well."
Coloma also noted that other road and transport projects have been approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board: