On Monday (July 26), President Rodrigo Duterte held his last State of the Nation Address, and one of the topics that he discussed extensively was the transport and infrastructure sector—particularly the measures his administration undertook to ease the mass commute and overall travel experience in Metro Manila. 

Here’s what he had to say: 

Upgrading of mass transport in Metro Manila

In his speech, Duterte highlighted the improvements his administration delivered to MRT-3. According to him, the train line, which frequently broke down and unloaded passengers mid-rail, has been transformed. 

“MRT-3, with its frequent breakdowns and unloading of passengers mid rail, was a horror that was for the daily commuters to endure in the past,” the President said.

“Now, MRT-3 no longer unloads passengers but to their destinations. The waiting time between trains has been significantly reduced. From 10 trains running at only 30 kilometers per hour before, now MRT-3 runs 23 trains at 60 kilometers per hour,” Duterte explained.  

Besides this, Duterte also pointed out the completion of LRT-2’s East Extension—the Marikina and Antipolo Stations. 

“We also pursued the completion of the LRT-2 East Extension Project. By extending Line 2 and adding two more stations, we have reduced travel time between Manila and Antipolo from the usual two or three hours to only just 40 minutes.”

With these changes in place, the country’s top executive said the misery of public commuting has been taken away. 

Opening of new roads and bridges

During his address, the President also talked about the completion and opening of Metro Manila Skyway’s Stage 3. 

“Thanks to our partnership with the private sector, we were able to open Stage 3 of the Metro Manila Skyway in January this year. This decongested EDSA and other major roads in Metro Manila,” he said. 

Duterte also touched upon the inauguration of the Kalayaan Bridge last June, which is a part of the bigger BGC–Ortigas Center Link Project expected to ‘reduce the usual one hour travel time between the two business districts to just 12 minutes.’

Projects outside of Metro Manila

Duterte mentioned that besides projects in Metro Manila, his administration is also undertaking high-impact projects in different parts of the country with one being the new passenger terminal building (PTB) at the Clark International Airport.

“The new and modern passenger terminal is equipped with the latest state-of-the-art technology. This can accommodate 8 million passengers, alleviate air traffic congestion at the NAIA Airport, as well as serve as a major growth driver and gateway for Northern and Central Luzon.”

“We also completed the Junction Lanao-Pagadian-Zamboanga City Road, which will provide easier access to farms and easily transport their agricultural products at low cost and in great quantities to industries and economic zones located in Diplahan, Zamboanga Sibugay,” the President shared. 

Meanwhile, Duterte said the Sorsogon City Coastal By-Pass Road is targeted for completion by the end of 2021 while the Davao City Coastal Road will be completed by 2023

Continuation of infrastructure plans

To continue the implementation of his infrastructure projects, Duterte has directed the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of Transportation (DOTr), and the National and Economic Development Authority (NEDA), the Department of Finance (DOF), and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to “be on full speed to ensure that our flagship projects will be completed within my term, especially those that would help disperse economic activity outside the densely populated Metro Manila.”

Extending the validity of driver’s licenses

Duterte also praised his administration for successfully clearing the Land Transportation Office’s (LTO) large backlog of driver’s licenses and extending the validity of new licenses.

“We have also gone beyond merely addressing the three-million backlog of driver’s licenses in 2016,” he said. 

“We also extended, for the new cards, the validity of the driver’s license to five years, and [additionally], we shall begin the issuance of driver’s licenses which will be good for 10 years if there is no traffic violation,” Duterte added.

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Image credit: Rouelle Umali /Xinhua via Getty Images