Department of Public Works and Highway Secretary Mark Villar (File photo)

MANILA – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) on Wednesday reported that construction of big-ticket projects of the government are on track despite the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

In a virtual presser after the pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) forum by economic and infrastructure clusters, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar said the construction of projects are on schedule, as they have resumed the works on projects under Build, Build, Build (BBB) program even when Metro Manila was still under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

“At this point, we are working 24/7, so the works were not that much affected since we resumed during the ECQ. The construction has been fast since there were less vehicles on the road. We feel we are still on track to meet our target in terms of infrastructure accomplishment,” he said.

He said many of the projects are set to be completed.

“We’re confident with regards to the big-ticket projects because of the new guidelines implemented. Based on our studies, we see that the constructions are continuing,” Villar said.

Villar said the amount of infrastructure projects under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte is “almost more than double to date”.

“More than double than any other administration,” Villar said. “Already we’ve delivered, and we have two years, we still many more to accomplish specially the Luzon Spine Expressway. We are nearing in decongesting Edsa. Our message to our countrymen, we are getting closer in providing comfort through the BBB projects.”

He said the Luzon Spine Expressway is a 905-kilometer (km) road network that will reduce travel time between Ilocos and Bicol from 20 hours to nine hours.

Villar believed that the BBB will play a major role in helping to jumpstart the economy.

“The BBB will play a central role especially in this Covid (pandemic), in jump starting the economy again. As I said earlier the infra has a high multiplier effect, it creates a lot of jobs. It also yields as high economic rate of return, it attracts investors,” he added.

Villar also reported that government built 137,000 classrooms, constructed more than 23,000 kilometers of road, created 8,941 flood mitigation structures, and erected 4,900 kms of bridges.

Among these projects are the NLEX Harbor Link C3-R10 Section which was inaugurated on June 16. It is a 2.60-km, six-lane ramp extending the NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10 exit to Radial Road 10, using C-3 Road.

The NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10, a 5.58-km expressway connecting McArthur Highway and C-3 was also finished.

Set to be completed next week is the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX). It is an 89.21-km expressway from Tarlac City to Rosario, La Union.

Aside from the DPWH, top economic executives as well as officials of the Department of Finance (DOF), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and other cluster-member agencies also presented their accomplishments during the three-part pre-SONA forum.

The second forum will be held on July 15 wherein the Participatory Governance, and Human Development and Poverty Reduction Clusters will report their accomplishments.

The third and last pre-SONA forum to be headed by Security, Justice and Peace Cluster, and Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation and Disaster Risk Reduction Cluster is set to be held on July 22.

The fora would be held leading up to the fifth SONA of President Rodrigo Duterte on July 27. (PNA)