Duterte Fact Checks

MISSING CONTEXT: Duterte policy to make Davao Region ‘last priority’ for infrastructure

Rappler
MISSING CONTEXT: Duterte policy to make Davao Region ‘last priority’ for infrastructure

SONA 2021. President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his sixth and final State of the Nation Address at Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.

RTVM screenshot

From 2016 to 2017, the budget of Davao for infrastructure increases by 119%. Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation says various infrastructure projects in the Davao Region have been completed.
At a glance
  • Claim: President Rodrigo Duterte told his economic managers and agencies to make Davao, his home region, the last priority for infrastructure projects.
  • Rating: MISSING CONTEXT
  • The facts: The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism reported that Davao Region had the highest budget increase with 119% from 2016 to 2017. Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said various infrastructure projects in Davao had been completed, such as airport development projects, improvement works on an international airport, and port projects. 
  • Why we fact-checked this: Duterte made this claim during his final State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 26, 2021. 
Complete details

In President Rodrigo Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 26, 2021, he claimed that he told his economic managers and agencies to make Davao the last priority for infrastructure projects. (READ: FULL TEXT: President Duterte’s State of the Nation Address 2021)

Duterte discussed his administration’s “quest for infrastructure development,” enumerating various projects that they were able to accomplish in the past years. He also explained that some of their projects were targeted for completion in the next few years, like the Davao City Coastal Road.

He said: “The Davao City Coastal Road will be completed by 2023. Bakit? Why? Why is Davao last? Kasi sinabi ko sa kanila, unahin ninyo ‘yung buong Pilipinas. During the initial years of my presidency, I told the economic managers and the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways), pati si Art Tugade sa [Department of] Transportation, ‘Unahin ninyo ang Luzon at ibang areas sa Mindanao. Do not look into the political entrails of the city and the other provinces.’ Sinadya ko talaga na ipanghuli ang Davao.

(The Davao City Coastal Road will be completed by 2023. Why? Why? Why is Davao last? Because I told them to prioritize the whole Philippines. During the initial years of my presidency, I told the economic managers and the DPWH, even Art Tugade of [the Department of] Transportation, “Prioritize Luzon and other areas of Mindanao. Do not look into the political entrails of the city and the other provinces.” I intentionally placed Davao last.)

Duterte added: “Kaya ang – for the Davaoeños, you must understand that we cannot really unahin natin iyong – kasi taga-diyan ako eh. Kung hindi ako sigurado taga-Davao, tapos na ‘yan pareho ng iba. Kaya lang, sinabi ko, make Davao the last priority.

(That’s why – for the Davaoeños, you must understand that we cannot really prioritize our – because I’m from there. If I wasn’t from Davao, those [projects] would have been completed along with the others. But, I said, make Davao the last priority.)

The claim is missing context. 

Based on the adjusted National Expenditure Program program, as of August 31, 2020, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has allocated the largest budget in their local programs with P176.16-billion. 

The proposed allocated budget in 2021 of the south and center sections and the Phase II of the Davao City Bypass Project is P13.1 billion, including the loan proceeds from the Japan International Cooperation Agency. It has the largest budget among the big-ticket foreign-assisted projects for 2021. (READ: Duterte’s priorities in penultimate budget: Infra, coronavirus, and pension

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) released an article on September 5, 2018, showing how the Davao Region had the highest increase of budget according to the DPWH’s allocation of funds per region from the years 2016 to 2018.

Davao Region’s civil works budget increased by 119% to P43.77 billion in 2017, from P19.97-billion in 2016. Meanwhile, the 2018 civil works programs budget increased by another 27% in capital outlay, with P56 billion. 

The national budget of 2016 was passed under the late former president Benigno Aquino III. Meanwhile, the 2017 budget was the first national budget passed under the Duterte administration.

According to PCIJ, “By all indications, Duterte has vested Davao the most-favored region status with a 146-percent total increase in its civil works budget in the last two years.”

On June 2, 2021, Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said that they were at the “forefront of building and developing transport infrastructure projects in Mindanao.” He reported that the Davao International Airport had completed multiple improvement works. 

Tugade added that the DOTr was able to accomplish the following projects: 

  • 2 airport development projects in Davao Oriental 
  • 3 social tourism port projects at the Port of Kaputian and Sta. Cruz Port in Davao del Norte, with the Philippine Ports Authority
  • 4 commercial port projects in Davao del Sur 
  • Social tourism port project in Davao Oriental

Meanwhile, Department of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said during a virtual press conference on September 10, 2020, that Mindanao was the “front and center” of the infrastructure program of the Duterte administration. 

Dominguez also said that the “big-ticket infrastructure initiative” of the Build, Build, Build program was the Davao City Bypass Construction Project. The government was able to close a loan agreement with the Japanese government for the second phase construction of the bypass project in Davao. (READ: Revise, Revise, Revise: Duterte’s Build, Build, Build list evolving up to the end)

Another infrastructure initiative is the Davao City Coastal Road that has a budget of P26 billion. It is an ongoing project that started its initial phase in 2017. Dominguez said at the same conference that “the two big infrastructure projects form part of the Duterte administration’s thrust to position Davao City as the center for agriculture and industry.”

Rappler has fact-checked a similar claim about Davao City having no projects under the Duterte administration. (READ: FALSE: Duterte claims ‘no projects’ for Davao City under his watch) – Nicole Anne Perez/Rappler.com

Nicole Anne Perez is a Rappler intern. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s internship program here.

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.