Press Release
September 7, 2016

Traffic powers price tag: P1.15 trillion, minimum--Recto

How much would the land-sea-air traffic improvement measures cost? P1.15 trillion.

And that's just the minimum, according to Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto, as many proposed projects in the menu submitted by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to the Senate "are still without price tags."

Because it is impossible to fund them all in one go, Recto is urging the DOTr to segregate the projects into levels of priority, "from the super urgent to the slightly urgent."

The senator noted that the list submitted by Transportation secretary Artuto Tugade includes projects which can be put in the back burner," like the construction of a training room in one DOTr -supervised office and the purchase of non-essential computers.

"Congress and Secretary Art have to work like air traffic controllers. Unahin maka-takeoff ang byaheng pinakaimportante. O ang mga proyekto na magbibigay ng agarang ginhawa. At yung mahalaga na kahit matagal matapos ay dapat nang maumpisahan," Recto said.

According to Recto, the DOTr's list is clustered into four sectors: road, maritime, aviation and rail, with its budget of P1.07 trillion, hogging 93 percent of DOTr's P1.15 trillion wish list.

With a tentative budget of P58.6 billion, road sector projects, by cost, is topbilled by the proposed P39.4 billion Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Line 2, a 48.6 kilometer loop around EDSA, Ayala Avenue, NAIA and the Ortigas and Bonifacio Global City business districts.

A second BRT line from the Manila City Hall to Quezon City Hall would need P4.8 billion. Two bus-related projects, an integrated terminal in Paranaque and Taguig, would cost P5.4 billion, Recto said.

DOTr is also asking P3.3 billion to jumpstart the setting up and operations of the proposed Single Traffic Authority, plus P1.9 billion to end the shortage and regularize the supply of vehicle license plates and driver's license cards.

Maritime-related activities would cost P3.9 billion, with P2.9 billion for the revival of the Pasig River ferry system. Recto said this would fund the purchase of 20 100-passenger boats, the repair of eight terminals and the dredging of the 15-kilometer ferry route.

As for the trillion-peso proposed outlay for the rail sector, Recto said this will be dispersed among three major categories: improvement and construction of light rail lines in Metro Manila, Cavite and Bulacan; the Philippine National Railways (PNR) South and North Lines; and construction of regional networks in Mindanao and Cebu.

LRT Line 1 will cost P24 billion plus P3 billion for the MRT-LRT Quezon City common station; Line 2, P21 billion; Line 3 which is the MRT, P8.4 billion; Line 4, P84 billion; and Line 5A, P15 billion.

Line 5 will incur the biggest cost: P219 billion for a 14-kilometer subway that will snake through the Makati and Taguig business districts to Manila and the Pasay reclamation complex.

Line 6 from Cavite to Dasmarinas will cost P68 billion while Line 7 from Quezon City to Bulacan will cost P95 billion.

Funding eyed for PNR is P107 billion for its North line to Malolos, Bulacan and P150 billion for its South line to Binan, Laguna. A 55-kilometer track extending the North line to Clark will cost an additional P99 billion.

Recto said the proposed Mindanao Rail will consist of a 20-kilometer line costing P79 billion in a yet to be named city while a 25-kilometer line in Cebu will cost P98 billion.

Of the aviation sector's P18.2 billion share, P10.9 billion will be for NAIA, P2.4 billion of which is for a third runway and P7 billion for the relocation of informal settlers on its 96 hectares of property.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines' (CAAP) P4.4 billion allocation is for the repair and night-flying capability upgrade of the Roxas, Dipolog, Ozamis, Tuguegaro, Cauayan, Pagadian, Catarman, Masbate, Calbayog, Dumaguete and Naga airports.

Also earmarked are P814.5 million worth of projects for Clark International Airport and P635.5 million to modernize the airport at Subic Bay.

Recto said all these costings are tentative and preliminary. "The program of work will reveal the true cost. If you read the proposal of DOTr, there are many activities there whose costs have yet to be computed. Some initially do not have estimated budgets but for sure they will use taxpayer's money later."

Recto said he is also proposing that the DOTr wish list "be clustered under one item in the 2017 national budget so that the budget cover needed to implement these will have the okay of Congress."

"We should remember that the emergency powers being sought to address the transportation crisis can never include the power to appropriate funds. What it only allows is the fast procurement of projects for which funds have been appropriated," Recto said.

So as not to disrupt the structure of the 2017 national budget, Recto is proposing that emergency powers activities which cannot be accommodated in the regular program be enumerated in the Unprogrammed Fund portion of the spending bill.

Such a move does not require President Duterte to raise the P3.35 trillion ceiling of the 2017 appropriations bill--a power which Congress does not possess, Recto said.

He explained that the Unprogrammed Fund is traditionally used as a parking lot of projects whose implementation depend on funding triggers like the perfection of a loan, a joint-venture project finalized or increase in revenue collections.

"So ngayon ayusin natin ang mga proyekto na fundable for 2017. Then i-line up natin ang sa mga susunod na taon. Dapat nating tandaan na multi-year ang programa. Kung nakalista, alam natin ang funding horizon," Recto said.

Recto said not all projects will be wholly funded by the government. "Many will be built under the PPP scheme. But just the same, we should indicate government counterpart and contingent liabilities for transparency's sake."

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