MANILA –In its first meeting under the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board confirmed approvals of nine projects, amounting to an estimated total cost of PhP171.14 billion, on September 14, 2016.

“Once implemented and completed, these approved projects will help attain our medium- and long-term development goals of making the agricultural sector competitive, improving mobility by making our transport system safer and more efficient, increasing disaster resiliency, and improving health services ,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia.

The nine projects are the following:

  1. Inclusive Partnership for Agricultural Competitiveness (IPAC) of the Department of Agrarian Reform. The project will assist smallholder farmers and farmer organizations in 50 agrarian reform community clusters across 44 provinces in 14 regions. In particular, IPAC will enhance linkage of 300,000 farmers and 650 farmer organizations to viable markets and establish productive partnerships with relevant private enterprises, and is expected to generate 30,000 jobs for landless farmers and women. IPAC will focus on developing agribusiness synergies in financially-viable production of copra, organic and low-chem rice, cacao, cassava, coffee, oil palm, Muscovado sugar, abaca, and rubber.

The project’s total estimated cost is PhP10.2 billion and is expected to be completed within five years.

  1. Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center Modernization (EVRMC) Project of the Department of Health (DOH). The project will expand the capacity of the presently overcrowded regional medical center from a 325-bed to a 500-bed capacity. The modernization of this regional medical center is a needed investment in order for Eastern Visayas, as one of the poorest regions of the country, to catch up on the Millennium Development Goals of improving maternal health and decreasing infant mortality especially for indigent households.

The project’s total estimated cost is PhP2.4 billion and is expected to be completed within 30 months.

  1. Modernization of Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital Project also of DOH. The project will expand the capacity of the presently overcrowded hospital from a 225-bed to a 500-bed capacity. The project aims to double the hospital’s present capability in caring and saving patients’ lives and welfare over its economic life.

The project’s total estimated cost is PhP2.2 billion with an implementation period of 24 months.

  1. Metro Manila Flood Management Project, Phase I of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).  This project includes the rehabilitation of 36 pumping stations located in Manila, Pasay, Taguig, Makati, and Malabon through the replacement of pumps, and the construction of 20 new pumping stations in Manila, Pasay, Pasig, Mandaluyong, San Juan, Caloocan, Valenzuela, and Quezon City. It will also minimize solid waste in waterways to reduce flood risks. The project involves participatory housing and resettlement, project management, support and coordination.

The NEDA Board approved the project with the instruction to include the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and the Department of Interior and Local Government as implementing partners of DPWH and MMDA in the participatory housing and resettlement component.

The project’s total estimated cost is PhP23.5 billion with an implementation period of six years.

  1. Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) – EDSA of the Department of Transportation (DOTr). The project aims to provide alternative mass transit in Metro Manila by establishing a BRT system within an EDSA route of 48.6 kilometers covering Monumento up to Diosdado Macapagal Avenue/Roxas Boulevard, with integrated routes between the Ortigas Business District, Bonifacio Global City, and the Makati Business District. The BRT is also planned to link with the NAIA terminals and include off-corridors to the target Integrated Transport System terminals in the North, South and Southwest of Metro Manila, and in the vicinity of SM Fairview.

It  involves the construction of dedicated lanes with busways, depots, and as much as 63 stations/terminals. These lanes include one lane per direction between stations, and two lanes per direction at stations. The project will also procure high-quality and high-capacity buses, install smart signaling system at intersections and central control system, and provide contactless automatic fare collection system.

The project’s total estimated cost is PhP37.8 billion with an implementation period of within three years (2017-2019).  The project is expected to be operational in 2020.

  1. Increase in Passenger Terminal Building (PTB) Area of the Bicol International Airport of the DOTr and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP). The project, which is the construction of a new domestic-Principal Class 1 airport of international standards in Daraga, Albay, increases the airport’s PTB floor area from the original 5,250 square meters to 13,220 square meters. It will also extend the runway from 2.1 kilometers to 2.5 kilometers. The project also involves the redesign of the navigation aids, security equipment and airport rescue and fire fighting vehicle to comply with current standards.  The project is upgraded to address the expected passenger volume of about 2.15 million by 2025, which may rise to about 4.4 million by 2035 given the increasing tourist and domestic travel to the Bicol region.

The project’s total estimated cost is PhP4.8 billion, and is expected to be completed in 2020.

  1. Change in Scope of the New Bohol Airport Construction and Sustainable Environment Protection Project also of the DOTr and CAAP. The change in the project, which relocates the existing domestic Tagbilaran Airport to a new airport facility of international standards in Panglao Island, includes the extension of the runway from 2 kilometers to 2.5 kilometers; the change in the PTB from single-storey to two-storeys with Passenger Boarding Bridges, including an expansion in floor area from an estimated 8,400 square meters to an approximately 13,300 square meters. The change is to anticipate new international airport capacity and airline requirements arising from the expected increase in domestic and international airline passengers to Bohol and other tourism destinations in Visayas.

The change will increase the total project cost from PhP7.4 billion to PhP7.8 billion. It is expected to be completed by June 2018.

  1. Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) PPP Project of the DOTr and the Manila International Airport Authority. The project, which is DOTr’s medium-term solution (doable within 3 years), is to improve safety and security, maximize capacity through “refreshed” infrastructure (airside requirements such as air traffic management), and improve passenger service standards in the existing NAIA. The implementation is through a concession to the private sector for the refurbishing or adding assets for air traffic and land side management, and for passenger services. The private sector participant will also operate and maintain the airport (both airside and landside) according to international standards (International Civil Aviation Organization, Federal Aviation Administration, etc.).

The project’s total estimated cost is PhP74.6 billion. The concession period is for 15-20 years, including the design/construction period. The DOTr expects to begin PPP procurement upon NEDA Board approval this September 2016, and award and sign a concession agreement by September 2017.

  1. Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project for the PCG, Phase II of the DOTr and Philippine Coast Guard.  The project involves the acquisition of two (2) heavy weather, high endurance 94-meter Multi-Role Response Vessels (MRRVs), to provide the PCG with vessels with a cruising range capability of 4,000 nautical miles, can be used in Sea-State 6 (wave height of up to 6 meters) in rough sea condition, and are capable to conduct continuous maritime patrol up to 15 days at 15 knots. Each vessel, as claimed by PCG, will enable them to recover as much as 500 passengers in the event of a maritime disaster, as well as provide the country with wider maritime coverage for strategic and national security purposes.

Given these upgraded vessel capacities, the project now costs PhP8 billion and with the NEDA Board approval, are expected to be delivered by November 2020 and March 2021 for each vessel, respectively.

Apart from the projects, the NEDA Board also adopted new policies to improve and streamline the Government’s approval processes of major public investment projects.

First is the updating of the economic hurdle rate from 15 percent to 10 percent, due to improved Philippine economic conditions, which have lowered the cost of domestic and foreign capital. This will facilitate the economic justification for more projects (and therefore approval by government) that will help in spreading more public services to far-flung areas of the country, in support of reducing poverty everywhere, as committed by the President.

Another is raising the ICC project cost floor from PhP1 billion to PhP5 billion to declog the pipeline of projects for ICC approval and to promote greater decision flexibility and accountability of line departments in implementing their priority projects. Approval of projects worth less than PhP5 billion will be delegated to heads of agencies, but will be reported by these agencies to the ICC prior to implementation.  The NEDA Secretariat will provide assistance to agencies to facilitate effective and accountable exercise of such delegation of approvals to implementing agencies.

Also, the NEDA Board also approved the streamlining of ICC review procedures for minor changes in scope, design, cost, and extension of implementation or loan/grant validity of projects.  Approvals of these projects will be delegated to the level of the ICC, the Department of Finance, and the NEDA Secretariat, as applicable, based on existing laws, rules and regulations.

Finally, the streamlining of the NEDA Board and ICC membership was also recommended for approval. It was proposed to reduce the NEDA Board membership to 11, which will include the President, Secretaries of NEDA, DOF, DTI, DPWH, DBM, DOTr, DOE, Executive Secretary, Chairperson of MINDA, and Deputy Governor of BSP. Also, the NEDA Board Executive Committee composed of the President, the Secretaries of NEDA, DOF, DBM, and the Executive Secretary was proposed to be reactivated. As for the ICC, it was proposed to limit the membership to six, composed of the Secretaries of DOF, NEDA, DBM, DOE, the Executive Secretary, and Governor of BSP.

These changes in membership will still be formalized through an Administrative Order or Memorandum Order. Through Executive Order 230, the President is empowered to modify the membership of the NEDA Board whenever deemed necessary.