Duterte Revamps His List of Priority Infrastructure Projects

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks duting a joint press conference with his Indian counterpart Ram Nath Kovind (not pictured) at Malacanang Palace in Manila on October 18, 2019. (Photo: TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images)

By Siegfrid Alegado

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will unveil a revised list of about 100 big infrastructure projects to be launched before his term ends in 2022, after some earlier projects were found to be unfeasible, an adviser said.

“We’re redoing the entire list,” Vince Dizon, who was appointed last month as presidential adviser for flagship infrastructure projects, said in an interview Thursday in Manila.

Projects “deemed unfeasible at this time” were dropped after a review of the original 75 projects in Duterte’s $180-billion “Build, Build, Build” program, Dizon said. Added to the list were some unsolicited proposals and others being considered for tender under the public-private partnership program, he said.

The new list, to be unveiled by the end of the year, will include regional airports and projects in information and communications technology, water, power and urban renewal, said Dizon, who also heads a government agency that converts former military bases for civilian uses.

Rampant Need

The revisions to the list underline the challenges -- ranging from policy reversals to financing difficulties -- in addressing urgent infrastructure needs in the Philippines and across Southeast Asia. Political uncertainty earlier this year delayed projects in Thailand, while the Indonesian government is turning to tax benefits to help fund airports, roads and railways.

It remains to be seen whether the Duterte administration’s revised list will help close the Philippines’ infrastructure gap.

“The question isn’t really whether the list is longer or shorter, but rather have they addressed the root issues in de-bottlenecking infrastructure implementation?” said Euben Paracuelles, chief Asean economist at Nomura Holdings Inc. in Singapore.

Asked how he’ll ensure that the revised plan is implemented, Dizon said all projects on the list have undergone feasibility studies.

“We’ll build enough momentum so they won’t be reversed. That’s the key,” he said.

Dizon also said:

  • The Bases Conversion and Development Authority, or BCDA, and China Gezhouba Group are set to sign an agreement by year-end to develop a 500-hectare, mixed-use industrial park in New Clark City, a metropolis planned northwest of Manila. It will be marketed to Chinese, Japanese, Korean and American manufacturers

  • BCDA and Banyan Tree Holdings Ltd. will soon sign an agreement to develop a resort complex in New Clark City

  • BCDA has tapped Los Angeles-based Aecom, which provides professional technical services to the U.S. government, to study how to best make use of its land portfolio of more than 40,000 hectares

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.