Palace touts over 1,000 kms of roads built, repaired since July

THE GOVERNMENT has constructed and rehabilitated more than 1,000 kilometers of roads from July to November this year, according to Malacañang, as the Marcos administration vowed to provide infrastructure for unhampered transport of goods in the countryside.

In a statement, the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) “has so far constructed, maintained and rehabilitated 1,105 kilometers of roads from July to November this year.”

The department has also upgraded a total of 112 bridges and 650 flood control structures, OPS said.

Through a budget provided by the Department of Agriculture, DPWH has also built some 75 kilometers of farm-to-markets roads.

“(This is) part of President Marcos’ pledge to help farmers transport their harvest to public markets,” the OPS said, citing the DPWH’s accomplishment report.

The agriculture sector contributes about a 10th to the Philippine gross domestic product. The country’s agriculture output contracted in the first two quarters in 2022 but expanded 1.8% in the third quarter.

The administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., who assumed office in July, has committed to boost local production, promising to improve the delivery of agriculture products to markets by building more farm-to-market roads.

The government must “consider agriculture infrastructure as integral to the overall infrastructure push,” Terry L. Ridon, a public investment analyst and convenor of think tank InfraWatch, earlier told BusinessWorld.

“It should have the same priority and national impact as the need to build more roads, bridges and rail,” he said in a Messenger chat, noting that the agriculture budget for 2023 is “insufficient” to make farming infrastructure resilient to strong typhoons and other impacts of climate change.

The Philippines is struck by at least 20 typhoons every year, five of which are considered destructive. In October alone, the country was visited by three storms, causing billions in agricultural losses.

The DPWH’s major infrastructure projects include the Cavite-Laguna Expressway, NLEX-SLEX Connector Road, Central Luzon Link Expressway, Cagayan de Oro River Flood Management project, Samar-Pacific Coastal Road and the Mindanao Growth Corridor Road Sector Project, the Palace said.

“To support the Agri-infrastructure Support Program, farm-to-market and farm-to-mill roads will be built, based on the DPWH program,” the OPS said.

“The DPWH also has programs on flood management, water management and basic social infrastructure support that will create more livable, sustainable and resilient communities,” it added. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza