ASEAN keen in partnering with PHL for infra projects

MANILA — Government officials said Thursday that ASEAN countries are keen in partnering with the Philippines to build infrastructure projects here.

In a press conference of the Build Build Build Program on the sidelines of 30th ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Transportation (DoTr), and Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) said ASEAN neighbors and other Asian countries had expressed interest in supporting Duterte administration’s infrastructure program.

DoTr Secretary Arthur Tugade cited Indonesia and Malaysia, saying that the duo were aggressive to partner with the country for transport projects.

On Sunday, the Davao-General Santos-Bitung, Indonesia roll-on roll-off ferry service will be launched.

Tugade said that there have been initial talks with his counterpart in Malaysia to replicate the RoRo service, linking Palawan to Sabah or other parts of Malaysia.

He also said that Malaysia indicated interest to build a railway system connecting University of the Philippines in Quezon City and Quiapo in Manila.

“It tells you that our ASEAN neighbors are really keen and interested in the developments that are ongoing within the country,” he said.

“On top of this, our two major trading partners, which is China and Japan, are aggressively pushing on participation, not only on railways and roads, but also on airports,” he added.

The DoTr chief will also meet Thursday evening Russian delegation from public and private sectors to explore opportunities here.

“It shows a very keen and aggressive interest to do business in the Philippines and with the Filipino people,” said Tugade.

For the part of BCDA, its president and chief executive officer Vivencio Dizon said BCDA’s projects receive “tremendous interest” from ASEAN countries, particularly Singapore and Malaysia.

Dizon said that Singapore and Malaysia were keen on urban development projects like the Clark Green City or now called as New Clark City.

“These two countries in the ASEAN are leading, not only in ASEAN but the world, in development of new cities,” he said noting the success of Singapore and Malaysia’s Putrajaya, where it moved in its entire government offices.

“We are very excited about this, because I think, we can learn a lot from our ASEAN partners, ASEAN neighbors in terms of how to really develop and plan new cities,” Dizon added.

“We can learn a lot from them and avoid the mistakes we have done in the past and avoid the situations, the once we have here now in Metro Manila,” the BCDA chief noted.

DPWH Secretary Mark Villar said partnership with the other ASEAN countries would help the department in transfer of technology and capacity building crucial for the country’s infrastructure program.

“We have a long-standing relationship with ASEAN countries, and we hope to improve that even further. Our most ambitious project will require transfer of technology, capacity building, and this I think, is consistent with the theme of these ASEAN summit, which is engaging the world,” said Villar.

“I think this infrastructure program, all of these things are symbol of engagement with the ASEAN, and a symbol of how we could use the ASEAN for the mutual benefit of all the member nations,” the official stressed. Kris Crismunbdo/