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10 Infrastructure Projects that will Change the Philippines

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A good leader is a builder.  All good leaders in history are remembered for what they have established or constructed.  This is because the ability to complete a major infrastructure project is a sign of unity, peace and progress made possible by a good leader of a particular civilization.

There is not much to draw from Philippine experience, given the limited infrastructure projects in the country, but great leaders in other countries or civilizations have done a lot to improve the lives of their constituents.  These are evident in the grand projects accomplished in the Netherlands, Singapore, the United States, France, Canada, Australia, Japan and Israel to name a few.

This is something President Benigno Aquino III should keep in mind, if he really wants to make a difference in the lives of the Filipino people.

Although the Philippine economy posted decent growth in his first three years in office, such growth was artificial in nature and led by the expansion of the services sector, especially finance and real estate, whose impact does not trickle down to the poor.

The Aquino administration has trumpeted its public-private partnership program as a centerpiece of its development projects, but so far it has yet to start the construction of any major project.

We would not go to the extent of suggesting that the government build multi-billion-dollar projects such as bullet trains, giant dams or inter-island super bridges, given the government's limited resources.  What we have in mind are projects that can be supported by existing government and private sector funds.  We list these 10 major infrastructure projects to give the government an idea of where to start.

10. Water treatment facility on every island.  The Philippines has more than 7,000 islands, but not one island has a complete water treatment facility to ensure that liquid waste is treated before they merge with the rivers, lakes and the ocean.

9. Water distribution system in every village. Water is the most important commodity, next to oxygen which is free, thanks to forests and trees that circulate it for humans.  Every village or barangay in the country should have access to potable water.  This will improve the lives of millions of people and enable workers to concentrate on productive activities without worrying about where to source their potable water in the evening.

8. Sewerage and anti-flood system in every village. The Philippines is the most typhoon-prone country in the world, yet it has the weakest anti-flood infrastructure.  Every village should have an underground network of sewers that will keep flood waters from rising beyond the street level.  Otherwise, millions of homes will be inundated during the rainy season every year.

7. Solar and wind mills in every village. Solar energy and wind velocity are renewable sources of energy that the country has ample supply of.  A one-megawatt solar power plant and one-megawatt wind mill in every village will be enough to meet the country's entire power requirement.  Remember that the Philippines has over 40,000 villages.

6. Mindanao Railway.  A new railway system in Mindanao will help facilitate the movement of people and goods in the resource-rich southern Philippines.  A Visayas Railway will also do the same thing in central Philippines.

5. Expansion of all roads to include sidewalk and bicycle lanes. One major hurdle to walking or riding bicycles is the narrow width of Philippine roads that do not have provision for sidewalk and bicycle lanes.  The limited sidewalk or sidestreet are even used as parking lots, depriving commuters of a good environment for walking.  Every successful city respects the right of its residents and tourists for comfortable movement in the street.

4. Cleanup of all rivers. If the government is really sincere in creating jobs and protecting the environment, it should start a cleanup campaign covering all rivers, starting with the heavily polluted Pasig River.  Although it is not a river, Manila Bay should also be cleaned until every litter on its shore and on its bed is removed. That effort will employ a lot of people.

3. A new city in Luzon.  Metro Manila will always be congested and polluted until the people find a better urban center in Luzon.  It is the chance of the government to build a new city (maybe in Bulacan or Pampanga) from the ground up, with better planning.  It could be the Clark City in Pampanga or the Remedios Trinidad City in Bulacan.

2. Luzon Railway.  The existing Philippine National Railway (PNR) Line should be expanded, modernized and improved to make it a world-class rail system that will connect Ilocos Norte province to Sorsogon province. It should add another line, stretching from Cagayan province to Quezon province, then to Batangas province.

1. EDSA Skybridge. Our top recommendation is the EDSA Skybridge or walkway, not because it is the most important, but because it is the easiest to be accomplished.  Yet, its impact will be tremendous in terms of easing traffic congestion, providing people with better alternative to travelling around Metro Manila and giving tourists a chance to explore the metropolis.  An elevated walkway is now a major feature of any modern city.

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