ZAMBOANGA PENINSULA will be receiving P23 billion worth of infrastructure projects this year, with the government looking to transfer Zamboanga City airport to a new site, the Department of Finance (DoF) said.

In a statement, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the region will be receiving additional funding for infrastructure this year as part of the government’s push to develop road networks in Mindanao.

The Department of Public Works and Highways has lined up 754 road construction and improvement projects for the region. Zamboanga City alone will receive 102 of these projects worth P1.16 billion, including a 36-kilometer (km) bypass road expected to be completed within the year.

The bypass road will connect the city to Dipolog and Pagadian, as well as facilitate the transport of goods to the Zamboanga Freeport Zone in the city’s Labuan district. Travel time is expected to be cut to 30 minutes from one hour currently.

Once completed, the road will serve as an alternative route for businesses from the neighboring cities of Dipolog and Pagadian plus municipalities in the Peninsula transporting goods to Labuan.

Mr. Dominguez led the celebrations for Zamboanga’s 81st charter day on Monday.

He added that the Finance department will likewise support the proposal to transfer the current Zamboanga City airport “to a new, more viable location.”

Plans to construct a new Zamboanga International Airport date back several administrations.

Funding needs will be supported by additional revenue drawn from the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act, as a result of which the government expects to collect an additional P82.3 billion.

Four big-ticket projects for Mindanao are also expected to be rolled out, including the P5.4-billion Malitubog-Maridagao Irrigation Project phase 2 in North Cotabato and Maguindanao; the P98-billion Mindanao Logistics Infrastructure Network; the P21-billion Mindanao road sector project that will build and improve 276 km; and the Mindanao Railway Project.

“This island of great promise will be in the front and center of the massive infrastructure program being rolled out by the Duterte administration,” Mr. Dominguez said during the ceremony at the Zamboanga City Hall.

These projects form part of the government’s P8.44-trillion infrastructure spending plan until 2022. — Melissa Luz T. Lopez