In photo: Davao City Bypass Road Construction Project Photo credits: DPWH-UPMO

(Davao City, 30 May 2023). The Infrastructure Development Committee (IDC) XI convened for 2nd Quarter CY 2023 Regular Meeting on 30 May 2023 at the NEDA-RDC XI Convention Center, SPED Area, Bangkal, Davao City.

In her opening message, the IDC XI Vice-Chairperson and Presiding Officer, NEDA XI Regional Director Maria Lourdes D. Lim, CESO II expressed her excitement over the upcoming opening of the Bago Aplaya-Tulip Drive Segment of the Davao City Coastal Bypass Road Project, as well as, the construction of the Bucana Bridge Project to start by the end of CY 2023. This priority project of the RDC XI shall serve as an alternate route that aims to alleviate road traffic along the Mac Arthur Highway.  She expects the infrastructure sector to be a key driver in Davao Region’s economic growth and accelerated transformation.

For the meeting’s first business agenda, the Committee elected Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) XI OIC-Regional Director Juby B. Cordon, as the new IDC XI Co-Chairperson for the remaining term 2022-2025, for endorsement to and confirmation by the RDC XI.

The DPWH-Bureau of Design (BOD) presented its road design standards particularly on median barriers as a concern on reduced total road width was raised during the Committee’s previous meeting. DPWH-BOD conveyed that median barriers are constructed due to safety considerations particularly to avoid vehicular clashes and to serve as pedestrian refuge.

The Committee recommended for RDC XI endorsement the 75 proposed agribusiness road projects amounting to PhP 10.8 Billion as the Region XI component of the Logistics Efficiency and Transport Seamless to Enhance Agribusiness Trade (LETS EAT) Program, for further evaluation of the Technical Working Group composed of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the DPWH. The LETS EAT Program is the reformulated Roads Leveraging Linkages of Industry and Trade (ROLL IT) of the Marcos Administration.

The Committee recommended for RDC XI’s endorsement the List of Proposed Inter- and Intra-Regional Priority Projects for Davao Region for the period 2023-2028 to the NEDA Board Regional Development Committee-Mindanao Area Committee (NB RDCom-MAC) as the Region’s inputs in the updating of the Mindanao Spatial Strategy Development Framework, 2015-2045.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) XI provided updates on the status of the Davao International Airport (DIA) Modernization. Aside from the ongoing and pipelined project funded by the Department of Transportation (DoTr), the modernization of the DIA shall be pursued through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme, the private proponent of which is currently preparing the required complete set of documents based on the revised Build, Operate, Transfer (BOT) Law Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).

The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) XI presented the salient features of the “Pambansang Pabahay Para sa Pilipino” or the 4PH, a flagship program of the Marcos Administration which aims to provide decent and affordable housing to Filipino families.

The Committee passed 2 resolutions in support of pending legislations which would impact the infrastructure sector. First is Senate Bill No. 799 or the Local Housing Boards Act which shall create Local Housing Boards (LHBs) in all Cities and 1st to 3rd Class Municipalities and Senate Bill No. 2146 or the Open Access in Data Transmission Act which shall close the digital divide by addressing the digital infrastructure gap through the simplification of market entry process and promotion of infrastructure sharing.

Telecommunications companies, DITO Telecommunity and Philippine LongDistance Telephone (PLDT) Company, presented their development plans for Davao Region. The Committee requested them to provide copies of their 5-year development plans as part of their commitment to the implementation of the Digitalization Roadmap of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) XI.

On the “Implementation Updates on Ongoing Major Infrastructures Projects in Davao Region”, the IDC XI members were apprised on major infrastructures projects in Davao Region, to wit: the Mindanao Railway Project Tagum-Davao-Digos Segment (MRP-TDD) and Davao City Public Transportation Modernization Project (DPTMP) from the Project Management Offices (PMO) of the Department of Transportation (DoTr), as well as, the Davao City Bypass Construction Project (DCBCP) and Samal Island-Davao Connector (SIDC) from the DPWH-UPMO.

The MRP-PMO reported that the Right-of-Way Site Acquisition activities are still on-going particularly the issuance of the Notices of Taking by the concerned LGUs with Tagum City at 100%, Municipality of Carmen at 89.96%, Panabo City at 98.92%, Davao City at 89.94%, Municipality of Sta. Cruz at 92.83% and Digos City at 95.42%.

On the DPTMP, the Loan Agreement is targeted to be signed on June 30, 2023 while procurement activities for the infrastructure projects are ongoing. There is also an ongoing study on the PPP structure for its Operations and Management.

The DPWH-UPMO updated the Committee on the DCBCP’s on-going tunnel excavation at the North and South Portals for Package I-1 with an overall accomplishment of 32% vs. the proposed revised schedule. As of May 2023, tunnel excavations at the North Portal are now at 612 meters for its northbound tunnel and 668 meters for its southbound tunnel. Meanwhile, tunnel excavations at the South Portal are now at 651 meters for its northbound tunnel and 565 meters for its southbound tunnel.

On the SIDC, the DPWH-UPMO reported that the Detailed Engineering Design (DED) Phase of the Design-and-Build Contract is at 65.22%, but is currently suspended effective January 03, 2023 due to the prevailing ROW issues. Moreover, 81 out of 104 boreholes for both Davao City and Samal Island side have been completed. On the ROW issue, all 10 properties in Samal Island side were already issued a Writ of Possession by the Regional Trial Court, while expropriation proceedings for the affected lots in the Davao City side are still ongoing.

Moving forward, the Committee shall look into the ICT subsector during its CY 2023 3rd Quarter Regular Meeting as one of the desired outcomes of the Davao Regional Development Plan, 2023-2028 is enhanced digital connectivity.

-Emil B. Clarito, NEDA XI