In separate interviews, Quezon City Rep. Winston “Winnie” Castelo, Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe, and Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone joined Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority chairman Martin Diño in seeking the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte to prioritize the project.

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

“I am one hundred percent behind this proposal. However, 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 not start this process if we continue building structures going to Manila,” said Batocabe, president of the Party-List Coalition and chairman of the House special committee on climate change.

Dino said he has sought the approval of President Duterte to prioritize the building of a 65-km coastal highway from Subic Bay to Manila as this would serve as the new multi-modal highway for rail cargo and vehicular traffic, linking the Subic and Manila ports by the shortest route possible.

The highway dovetails with the Freeport’s planned expansion of its container terminals 3 and 4 to increase its handling capacity to 1.2-million TEUs or Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit, Dino said.

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, into a four-lane highway and the construction of a new tunnel and bridge to accommodate the new lanes are also in his priority projects.

He 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-km bypass 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 bypass 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.