• Solons back Subic Bay-Manila coastal highway

    Reps. Winston Castelo (LP, Quezon City), Ben Evardone (PDP-Laban, Eastern Samar), and Rodel Batocabe (AKO Bicol Partylist) called on President Duterte to include the project in government’s list of priority infrastructure projects.

    The three lawmakers are actively involved in the drawing of the emergency powers measure on the traffic crisis that is currently pending before the House Committee on Transportation.

    The four congressmen lauded Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Martin Diño for strongly pushing for the implementation of the project.

    “Any road development towards MM is welcome due to the magnitude of the traffic problem. However, we should study further the best infrastructure available as the best alternative,” said Castelo, chairman of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development.

    For his part, Evardone urged the Lower House to make available needed budgetary allocation for the project.

    “Any good plan that will help decongest Manila and its worsening traffic should be supported,” said Evardone, chairman of the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries.

    Batocabe, chairman of the House Committee on Climate Change, said decentralizing economic activites from Metro Manila will help expand development to various points of the country.

    “Let us start to lessen the centralization of economic activities in Metro Manila and prioritize the dispersal of industries in the provinces. And we can now start,” said Batocabe.

    Diño proposed the immediate construction of a new multi-modal highway for rail cargo and vehicular traffic, linking the Subic and Manila ports by the shortest route possible This proposal dovetails with the Freeport’s planned expansion of its Container Terminals 3 and 4 to increase its handling capacity to 1.2 million TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit).

    He said the SBMA would boost as well the handling capacity of the Naval Supply Depot Compound and Bulk Cargo Port Wharves for loose cargoes, and rehabilitate the Sattler Pier, as modernizing its port facilities and rebuilding its ageing infrastructure shift to high gear.

    Diño said he has also sought the help of Public Works Secretary Mark Villar to provide technical assistance for the proposed widening of the narrow Tipo Road, which links the Freeport facility to the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), into a four-lane highway and the construction of a new tunnel and bridge to accommodate the new lanes.

    The former anti-crime and corruption advocate stressed that these projects should be undertaken simultaneously in this “golden age of infrastructure” as the Philippines rides the momentum as the best-performing economy in the region.

    Also considered a vital part of the new road network is the 17.273-kilometer by-pass road for cargo trucks that would connect the Freeport terminals directly with the SCTEX in Hermosa, Bataan, to provide easy transport for goods and services at the export processing zones in the area and in nearby towns in Pampanga, he said.

    The by-pass road would also relieve traffic buildup at the steep Tipo Road for vehicles and heavy trucks going in and out of the Freeport. “Our goal is to connect Subic to Manila and the economic zones in Luzon,” Diño said.