President Rodrigo Duterte underscored the importance of the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program during his speech at the opening ceremonies of the Boao Forum for Asia held in Hainan, China on April 10, 2018.
Speaking before renowned businessmen and leaders from government led by Chinese President Xi Jinping, President Duterte said the “Build, Build, Build” program will not only upgrade the country’s infrastructure but also provide interconnectivity between people and communities, create more jobs, and strengthen the investment climate leading to sustained inclusive growth.
“Our Build, Build, Build program will provide the solid backbone for growth. This will continue to upgrade the infrastructure, connect more people and communities and create more jobs. Already we have started a three-year rolling program amounting to over US$69 billion until 2022,” Mr. Duterte said.
Of this, President Xi Jinping was quick to say “China fully supports your Build Build Build program.”
Infrastructure is among the top priorities of the Duterte Administration with public infrastructure spending targeted to reach 8-9 trillion pesos from 2017-2022.
Among the key infrastructure projects under the Build program include the construction of the Subic-Clark Railway; North-South railway projects connecting Los Baños, Laguna to Tutuban in Manila and to the Clark Freeport in Pampanga; the 1,500-hectare industrial park in Clark; and, the expansion of the Clark International Airport—the first hybrid public-private partnership project rolled out under the Duterte administration. These are joint projects of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).
BCDA President and CEO Vivencio Dizon, who was part of the delegation, said “Clark is the new frontier for the country. With the current developments, we aim to decongest Manila, provide thousands of jobs, and make Clark the next investment destination in the country.”
Mr. Duterte meanwhile stressed his resolve to work with all nations in the region including China whom he said is among the Philippines’ partner in the building of the much-needed infrastructure.
“As sovereign equals, the Philippines and China are partners in the building of the much-needed infrastructure. [We are building] bridges of greater understanding between our peoples. We are working together on strengthening economic complementarities,” Mr. Duterte said.
In the first year of Duterte’s administration alone, Chinese investment in the Philippines expanded by 15% from USD27 million (PHP 1.40 billion) in 2016 to USD31 million (PHP 1.61 billion) in 2017.