The Duterte administration’s ambitious program to ramp up investments in infrastructure is meant not only to improve connectivity and boost economic productivity in the countryside, but also to develop the country’s emergency response system and better protect its communities most vulnerable to natural disasters.
Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar said infrastructure plays a key role in mitigating the effects of natural disasters and man-made conflicts as shown by the lessons learned during the onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda and the Zamboanga City siege in 2013.
“In these separate cases, the presence of alternative gateways to city centers, which require intermodal transport systems could have saved more lives and mitigated the effects of these crises on the affected communities,” Villar said.
Infrastructure is also indispensable to a robust economy in the regions, especially those farthest from Metro Manila. Villar pointed out, for instance, the need to build a direct road link between the Caraga region and Bukidnon to enhance trade in Mindanao.
“Improving connectivity in the regions through physical infrastructure is necessary not only to realize the government’s goal of inclusive growth, but also to boost our emergency response systems and reduce our vulnerability to disasters, whether natural or man-made,” Villar said.
“Moreover, gaps in infrastructure that deliver basic services exist and need to be funded. For instance, in the area of solid waste management, only 30 percent of the 42,028 barangays nationwide have materials recovery facilities,” Villar noted.
The Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) has also stressed the need to improve the country’s disaster preparedness to avoid “hindrances” to the economy’s continuous high growth rate.