Aquino vows to finish key infra by 2016
3 airports, NLEX-SLEX connector to be finished before PNoy's term ends
MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III vowed his administration will complete three new provincial airports and three transport terminals in Metro Manila before the end of his term in 2016.
He also expressed confidence the two connector road projects for the North Luzon and South Luzon Expressways will be completed by 2015.
In his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, Aquino said these infrastructure projects will generate significant jobs for Filipinos.
"A large portion of our job generation strategy is building sufficient infrastructure. For those who have gone to Boracay on vacation, you have probably seen our newly christened terminal in Caticlan. The plan to expand its runway has also been laid out," he said, in the vernacular.
"And we will not stop there. Before the end of my term, the New Bohol Airport in Panglao, New Legaspi Airport in Daraga, and Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental will have been built," he said.
There will also be upgrades for international airports in Mactan, Puerto Princesa and Tacloban, as well as domestic airports in Butuan, Cotabato, Dipolog, Pagadian, Tawi-Tawi, Southern Leyte, at San Vicente sa Palawan. Some of these projects are part of the government's public-private partnership program.
NAIA defects solved by 2013
As for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (NAIA), Aquino said Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas assured him the structural defects will be fixed before his next SONA in 2013.
"I am the fourth president to deal with the problems of NAIA Terminal 3. Airplanes are not all that take off and land here; so did problems and anomalies. Secretary Mar Roxas has already said: Before we convene at the next SONA, the structural defects we inherited in NAIA 3 will have been fully repaired," he said.
'More fun to have Mon'
Improving the country's infrastructure is linked with the growth of the Philippine tourism industry. Aquino compared the growth in tourist arrivals under his 2-year administration with the 9-year Arroyo administration.
"Despite the length of their time in office, the previous administration only managed to add a mere 1.3 million tourist arrivals—and we contributed half a year to that number. Under our administration, we welcomed 2.1 million tourist arrivals by June 2012. More will arrive during peak season, before the end of the year, so I have no doubt that we will meet our quota of 4.6 million tourist arrivals for 2012. This means that we will have a year-on-year increase of 1.5 million tourists," he said.
Buoyed by the strong growth in tourist arrivals, Aquino said it would not be far-fetched for the Philippines to achieve 10 million visitor arrivals annually by 2016.
"And if the Filipino people continue to embody the same solidarity that allowed the Puerto Princesa Underground River to become one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, there is no doubt that we will be able to achieve this. As we have already announced to the entire world: 'It’s more fun in the Philippines," the President said.
Aquino even praised Tourism Secretary Mon Jimenez, saying "It’s really more fun - to have Secretary Mon Jimenez with us."
Bus terminal, road projects
Aquino mentioned two projects that will help ease traffic in the metropolis: the LRT Line 1 Cavite Extension project; and the two elevated roads connecting North Luzon and South Luzon Expressways.
"(The NLEX-SLEX expressway connector roads) will be completed in 2015 and will reduce travel time between Clark and Calamba to 1 hour and 40 minutes," he said.
These two NLEX-SLEX projects will be undertaken by the Metro Pacific group and the San Miguel-Citra group.
Aquino also promised his administration will build three transport terminals in Taguig, Quezon City and Parañaque before the end of his term.
"Before I leave office, there will be high-quality terminals in Taguig, Quezon City, and Parañaque, so that provincial buses will no longer have to add to the traffic on EDSA," he said.
Click here for PNoy's 2012 SONA in English
Click here for PNoy's 2012 SONA in Filipino