Panay-Guimaras-Negros Link Bridge is gov’t priority

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

The Panay-Guimaras-Negros Link Bridge remains a priority for the national government to enhance connectivity and boost economic growth in the region.

The project was presented by Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Manuel M. Bonoan during the Philippine Economic Briefing on May 27, 2024, at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).

Bonoan also highlighted progress on other bridge investment projects connecting Luzon and Mindanao, including the Panguil Bay Bridge, Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge, and Davao-Samal Bridge.

DPWH-6 Regional Director Engr. Sanny Boy Oropel earlier announced that soil exploration has commenced for the Panay-Guimaras-Negros (PGN) bridge project. Six consultants have started the geotechnical investigation necessary for the proposed bridge, identifying alignments for the bridge’s pillars.

“Based on the detailed engineering design, there are two segments for the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Bridge totaling 32 kilometers,” Oropel explained. “Segment 1 covers Panay to Guimaras, and Segment 2 spans Guimaras to Negros.”

The consultants are deploying equipment in the waters of Iloilo and Guimaras, supported by six stationed barges. This phase focuses on soil classification, crucial for determining the structural design and stability of the bridge.

Oropel expressed confidence in meeting the December 2024 deadline for the Detailed Engineering Design (DED) of the first segment, connecting Panay to Guimaras. This accelerated timeline follows a directive from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to initiate construction in the second half of 2025. The original plan aimed for a December 2025 completion for both segments’ DEDs.

“The PGN Island Bridges will revolutionize regional accessibility, ushering in an era of streamlined transportation,” Oropel stated. “From the swift movement of people to the efficient transfer of goods and services, these bridges will redefine inter-island travel, ensuring a brighter, more interconnected future for all.”

The PGN bridge project is expected to transform regional connectivity among Panay, Guimaras, and Negros, reducing travel time from three to four hours to just one hour upon its completion in 2030. The bridge will facilitate the seamless transfer of various products from Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros, and other neighboring provinces in Western Visayas.

The first segment of the bridge will begin at Brgy. MV Hechanova in Leganes, Iloilo, extend to Buenavista, Guimaras, and continue from San Lorenzo, Guimaras, to Pulupandan, Negros Occidental.

Meanwhile, Finance Secretary Ralph G. Recto expressed optimism about the Philippines’ economic outlook, driven by a more open and liberalized investment policy landscape.

Recto said their strategies aim to lift 14 million Filipinos out of poverty by 2028 and achieve inclusive growth.

“Our growth-enhancing initiatives are designed not only to create a globally competitive economy but also to harness the talents of our young workforce. We aim to build a nation where every Filipino can thrive, secure decent jobs, and improve their lives,” Recto said during his keynote speech at the Philippine Economic Briefing.

With the theme “PH On-the-Go: Fast-Tracking Economic Progress,” the 2024 PEB provided a platform for the government to present economic and investment updates to over 800 domestic business leaders, members of the diplomatic corps, academe, civil society groups, non-governmental organizations, and the media.

Recto highlighted several growth-enhancing strategies, including maintaining price stability, adhering to fiscal discipline, and promoting investments in productivity-enhancing sectors. He said these measures will help the Philippines achieve upper-middle-income status by 2025, lift 14 million Filipinos out of poverty by 2028, and position the country as the 13th largest consumer market globally by 2030.

The Philippines is expected to become a trillion-dollar economy by 2033 and surpass France to become the 14th largest economy by 2075.

On investments, Recto stressed that the current policy landscape in the Philippines has never been more open. The government is aggressively addressing bottlenecks to realize the USD 72.2 billion worth of investment pledges gathered from President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s engagements as of December 2023.

Key reforms include Administrative Order No. 23, which expedites the inspection of all imported commodities through digital means; Executive Order No. 18, which creates Green Lanes for Strategic Investments; the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Code; and the Ease of Paying Taxes (EOPT) Act.

Amendments to the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act are underway to enhance fiscal and non-fiscal incentives and incentivize investments in priority industries within special economic and freeport zones.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said the government is strengthening strategic economic partnerships, such as the trilateral partnership between the US, the Philippines, and Japan, which facilitated the development of the Luzon Economic Corridor.

The Office of the Special Assistant to the President for Investment and Economic Affairs (OSAPIEA) Secretary Frederick D. Go outlined plans for the Luzon Economic Corridor, linking Subic Bay, Clark, Manila, and Batangas through upgraded ports and railways. The government is seeking opportunities for businesses and industries in renewable energy, pharmaceuticals, and semiconductors.

Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Asis G. Perez emphasized increased investments in agriculture to improve productivity and enhance climate resilience. This includes using state-of-the-art technology and satellites to predict weather patterns and improve farmers’ readiness.

Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime J. Bautista reported progress on the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) PPP project, demonstrating strong support for private investments and commitment to PPPs.

Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary Mario C. Marasigan emphasized the agency’s commitment to efficiently implement the Energy Virtual One-Stop Shop (EVOSS) and fast-track certification of nationally significant projects to expedite facilitation in the energy sector, especially renewable energy.

Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Undersecretary Jeffrey Ian C. Dy highlighted initiatives to enhance connectivity access and reduce costs through collaboration with the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) on shared infrastructure policies, particularly in fiber optic cables.

Secretary Recto, joined by Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan, and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Senior Assistant Governor Iluminada T. Sicat, assured the public that the government is proactively managing inflation and on track to achieving growth and fiscal targets.

Recto assured investors that inflation remains manageable despite external challenges, citing the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) forecast of Philippine inflation settling at 3.6% this year, within the government’s target of 2% to 4% and lower than the global average of 5.9%.

The government is also on course to meet its total revenue collection target of PHP 4.3 trillion, having collected PHP 1.5 trillion by the end of April.

The Department of Finance (DOF) is focusing on growing tax revenues by plugging tax leaks and improving tax administration, particularly in the e-commerce market, through digitalization. Additionally, the government is tapping into non-tax revenue streams to generate funds without imposing new or increased taxes.

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