The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has proposed over P19.8 billion budget to fund various Road Transport Sector Projects nationwide for the year 2022, but only P1 million for the sector was approved to be included in the National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2022.
“We agree that there should be more funds allotted for the road sector. Hindi kakayanin na isang milyon lang sa road sector. Nandyan ang service contracting, bike lane, ang libreng sakay.
Kaya po kami ay humihingi ng tulong sainyo sa Senado na ito ay mabago at madagdagan, dahil ito po ay mahalaga at kailangan ng mga drayber, operator at pasahero, lalo ngayong panahon ng pandemya,” DOTr Secretary Art Tugade said, referring to Senator Grace Poe during the Senate Committee on Finance Hearing on the proposed DOTr Budget for 2022 yesterday, 30 September 2021.
For locally funded projects for the road sector, the DOTr proposed P13.2 billion, while foreign-assisted projects (FAPs) amounted to P6.61 billion.
Of the total 13.2 billion for local road projects, the DOTr allotted P10 billion for Service Contracting Program, P1.5 billion for Active Transportation Infrastructure and Related Programs, P800.71 million for PUV Modernization Program , P472.97 million for EDSA Busway Project, P125.91 million for Makati-BGC Greenways, P40 million for the Feasibility Study for Ilocos Norte Transport Hub, P10.71 million for Taguig City Integrated Terminal Exchange, P100 million for Feasibility Study for Bataan Bus Rapid Transit, among others.
The agency also proposed counter-part funding for the FAPs such as the EDSA Greenways Project (P243.47 million), Davao High Priority Bus System (3.59 billion), Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project (2.47 billion) and the Metro Manila BRT Line Project – Quezon Avenue (P300 million).
The DOTr also clarified that it is not true that the agency only proposed funds for the rail sector, even if most of the DOTr budget that was approved by DBM for inclusion in the NEP is under the railways sector.
“It is not true that DOTr only proposed funding for the rail sector. As explained by Secretary Tugade, we proposed funding for all of DOTr’s four (4) sectors, including projects in the road, maritime, aviation, and railways sectors. It just so happened that most of the funding approved by the DBM are for railways sector projects,” Transport Undersecretary for Railways TJ Batan said.
The DOTr noted that while the road sector should certainly be allotted with more budget, it also noted the necessity of pushing for more rail projects, to close the gap that was created in the railways sector by decades of compounded underinvestment, and to catch up with other countries in terms of railways infrastructure.
According to a survey by the World Bank in 2019, the Philippines ranked 119th or at the bottom of the 119 countries surveyed in terms of length of operational railways infrastructure.
“Yan ang dahilan kung bakit malaki ang kinakailangan na budget para matustusan at maisara ang napakalaking infrastructure gap na aming nadatnan sa sektor ng riles,” Secretary Tugade said.
“Most of the rail projects that the DOTr is catching up on implementing were conceptualized, planned, and started decades ago, such as the Mindanao Rail in 1957, the Metro Manila Subway in 1973, the North South Commuter Railway or PNR Clark in 1994, LRT-2 East Extension in 1999, LRT-1 Cavite Extension in 2000, MRT-7 in 2001, and the Common Station in 2006,” Usec. Batan said.
“Malaking dahilan kung bakit tayo ay kailangang mag-invest sa sektor ng riles ay dahil sa transport capacity na dala ng mga tren. Sa isang urban center o malaking siyudad, kung saan napakadaming tao at napakataas ng density, hindi na sapat na mga daan lang ang inaasahan. Hindi na sapat na mga kotse, jeep, at bus lamang ang aasahan, at kinakailangan na talaga ng higher capacity public mass transport, at ang pinakamataas na capacity na land-based transport ay sa rail,” Batan added.
“Halimbawa, sa kasalukuyang itinatayong North South Commuter Railway at Metro Manila Subway, ang isang train set lamang na kinabibilangan ng walong bagon kada tren ay may kakayanan o capacity na magsakay ng mga pasahero na katumbas ng magkakasya sa 1,318 na mga kotse, o 224 na mga jeep, o 64 na mga bus,” he said.