DOTr SECRETARY ARTHUR TUGADE
FULL SPEED AHEAD
From air, land, and sea, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary, Arthur Tugade, lays down the plans—and the progress— of this administration’s priority projects
BY RHODA OSALVO
PHOTOS BY MEL CORTEZ
Standing tall onstage at the Asia CEO Breakfast Forum, in front of some 250 business people from local and international companies, including a handful of local government heads and journalists, DOTr Secretary, Arthur Tugade presented the latest on President Duterte’s ambitious Build, Build, Build
program worth P7 trillion. The Secretary reported with much bravado what the department has
accomplished over the past two years. “To achieve connectivity and mobility and thus, develop and
sustain economic growth, our four areas of focus are airport, rail, road, and maritime,” the lawyer -
businessman turned transport chief said.
AIRPORT: FROM WORST TO BEST
The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), once named one of the worst international
gateways, landed on the top 10 in the most improved airport category based on the 2018
Skytrax survey of airline passengers. By decongesting NAIA, its punctuality rate rose from
a poor 50% to a current 74%, which is better than the international average of below 70%. This was brought about by night-rating five commercial airports. Four more are lined up for this purpose so
that by end of the year, there will be a total of 24 airports that are 24-hour operational in the country,
and all 42 by 2022. Night-rating allows airports to operate 15 minutes after sunset and 15 minutes
The President inaugurated the country’s satellite-based air traffic management technology in January this year. Along with this, the government purchased 10 new radars. A total of 13 radars and one satellite radar are now in place to make air travel safer and more secure. It also allows proper aircraft and overflight
identification. With this, the government can collect accurate payment from those flying within
Aside from the rehabilitation of NAIA, which started during the time of President Benigno Aquino III, a simple change in policy ended laglag-bala or the bullet-planting extortion scheme of some airport personnel. “I told them there is no need to detain someone found with a bullet or two, just leave the bullet behind and let them fly ,” Secretary Tugade explained.
The transport head also announced the different new airports that opened and will open, confirmed plans for the construction of an international airport in Bulacan which was already approved by NEDA, a possible general aviation hub and operational airport in Sangley Point, Cavite, and the improvement of NAIA’s four terminals.
RAILWAY: ON TRACK
For many years, many dreamed of a subway in the metro. But many also said it cannot be done. Being earthquake-prone, the country needs technology that can withstand the tremors, such technology and infrastructure it could not afford yet.
For many years, a train running in Mindanao has been in the hearts of lawmakers and so, in the hope of such, they filed and refiled bills pertaining to this every year. Nothing happened until the mayor from Mindanao took over Malacañang and his buddy from Cagayan got to work.
The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), once named one of the worst international gateways, landed on the top 10 in the most improved airport category based on the 2018 Skytrax survey of airline passengers.
“The president said, start with the most difficult project. Get it done right away, ” Secretary Tugade told the business community when he announced that the Manila Subway project is ahead of schedule—actual construction to start before end of the year and that the Mindanao Railway project is on track (bidding is happening this June). The Manila Subway project will run from Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City to NAIA in Pasay City.
Right now, the country has 77 kms. of railways only through LRT1, LRT2, MRT3, and the PNR; down from 900 kms. in the ‘70s when lines used to run from La Union to Albay. This administration’s target is to finish 1,900 out of the planned 2,555 kms. of railway by 2022.
With the PNR Clark running from Tutuban to the Clark International Airport, travel time will be reduced to less than an hour for the express rail.
Other than the infrastructure, the Secretary plans to put up a Philippine Railway Institute in Valenzuela, in partnership with Metro Tokyo, to help develop and improve the skills of Filipinos in operations and equipment maintenance of the train system.
What the previous DOTr men failed to roll out in six years, the septuagenarian chief says, he and his team are managing to get done because of their hard work and diligence and the President’s high
trust rating resulting into confidence and natural desire of businesses to help the administration.
As such, he acknowledged and threw heaps of praise to the two businesses—Ayala Group and
Megawide Corporation—for waiving the fees due them from the government and encouraged the
other companies to do the same.