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Source: Riza T. Olchondra, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 05/02/12

It may take P17 billion worth of road and related projects to fully prop up the country’s tourism industry, according to a proposal from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Public Works Secretary Rogelio L. Singson said in an interview that he and Tourism Secretary Mon Jimenez have talked about the road projects needed in key tourism areas all over the country.

“We are submitting P5 billion worth (of infrastructure projects) for 2012 and P12 billion for 2013 in support of the [tourism] master plan,” Singson said.

The economic development cluster of President Aquino’s Cabinet recently endorsed the tourism road map.

The Cabinet cluster is composed of the DPWH, National Economic and Development Authority, and the Departments of Tourism, Budget and Management, Science and Technology, Finance, Energy, Interior and Local Government, Agriculture, and Trade and Industry.

Singson identified some of the infrastructure projects included in the DPWH proposal.
“Road projects in Cebu and Bohol cost P1.2 billion. In Palawan, there are projects like the Coron-Busuanga and Taytay-El Nido roads which, together, cost P150 million,” he said. “Road projects in Puerto Princesa are estimated at P138 million. The roadwork in Sorsogon going to Donsol costs P150 million. There are also projects in Benguet province, Davao City, Cagayan de Oro City, Zamboanga and other areas.”

On his other role as “water czar,” Singson said he had submitted a proposal on the restructuring of functions and responsibilities of water-related agencies.

“It’s now being reviewed by the Office of the President,” he said.

Cebu, Tagbilaran and Puerto Princesa cities are among the tourism areas to be supported by infrastructure work under the government’s program alignment strategy, according to the DPWH website.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cayetano W. Paderanga Jr. said that the alignment of infrastructure projects with key programs, such as the tourism road map, was meant to maximize the impact of every peso spent.

Paderanga has described tourism as a “low-hanging fruit” that can quickly generate jobs and spark business activity in the countryside.

Energy Secretary Rene D. Almendras also noted that roads, airports and other infrastructure must be prepared to ensure the comfort of tourists even before the Philippines goes all-out with its tourism promotions.

Otherwise, Almendras said, “it will not be fun in the Philippines for the tourists.”

The Philippine economy must expand, in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), by a yearly average of 7 to 8 percent from 2010 to 2016 in order to reduce poverty incidence.

The country’s GDP only grew 3.7 percent in 2011, but is expected to recover starting 2012 due to higher public spending and more business activities brought on by infrastructure and public-private partnership projects, among others.

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