Tugade endorses ‘Build, Better, More’

Former Transportation Secretary Art Tugade has endorsed the “Build, Better, More” project of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., saying it should serve as its growth dream.

“It’s for our countrymen, this ‘Build, Better, More’ project. We should trust the administration and pray for its success,” said Tugade who, during his term, pushed for the Metro Manila Subway Project.

Tugade was guest on Daily Tribune’s digital show, Straight Talk, on Tuesday.

The MMSP already has an approved investment and funding, with its partial operability civil works and trains contracted out, according to Tugade.

The former Cabinet secretary said two of the boring machines, each measuring seven meters in diameter and weighing 700 tons each, arrived in the country early this year.

“The Filipino’s excitement has pushed me to pursue and start the project. I even included it in my book, ‘The Art of It All’, as a testimony that I am indeed excited,” he said. “Right now, the tunnel boring machines are already there, and construction in Valenzuela and North Avenue is on its way. If the timeframe and roadmap that we initiated will be realized, the partial operability from Valenzuela to North Avenue will be set in 2023. By 2025, a segment containing various stations should be finished based on our roadmap,” Tugade explained.

“I fervently hope that this administration will be guided by some sort of divine intervention for the project to be realized in the coming years.”

The DoTr sealed a loan agreement with the Japan International Cooperation Agency, amounting to 253.30 billion yen last February for the second phase of the MMSP, with an interest of 0.01 percent, with a grace period of roughly 12 to 15 years, according to Tugade.

“The right of way, meanwhile, was also substantially addressed, and no need to go to Congress to ask for funding; that’s why the MMSP should be finished. It is there for the picking, it is there for the completing,” he stressed.

Accelerating the transport infrastructure of the country, JICA has committed to supporting the government in implementing the P357-billion MMSP, Phase I.

The envisioned 27-km MMSP will run underground from East Valenzuela City to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 in Pasay City.

Once completed, the MMSP can accommodate about 370,000 passengers per day while reducing the travel time from 1 hour and 10 minutes to just 45 minutes, Tugade said.

The MMSP has been identified in 2014 under JICA Study “Roadmap for Transport Infrastructure Development for Metro Manila and its Surrounding Areas.”

Following this, JICA extended a grant to the government for the conduct of a preparatory survey and detailed design study.

The first tranche of loans amounting to 104.53 billion yen to finance the implementation of the MMSP was executed in 2018.

The “BBM” project requires P1.196 trillion from Congress and was listed a “spending priority” during the Department of Budget and Management’s briefer on the 2023 National Expenditure Program submitted to the House of Representatives last Monday.

Budget Secretary AmenahPangandaman said the BBM project is an expansion of Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build,” aimed at boosting investments, job creation, economic growth, and the quality of life in both urban and rural communities.

The budget for BBM lags behind BBB which was then projected to cost around P9 trillion (2016 to 2022), accounting for 7.0 percent of the gross domestic product by 2022.

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