PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. has greenlighted a renewable energy-run water project in the southern city of Davao as it deals with the prevailing El Niño weather pattern that is expected to worsen water supply woes in the area.

In addition, his administration is advancing a proposed public transport project that targets to utilize hundreds of electric buses in the country’s third largest city, home to his predecessor-turned-critic Rodrigo R. Duterte.

In a speech at the inauguration of Davao City’s Bulk Water Supply Project, Mr. Marcos said: “What this demonstrates is a proven approach to battling water scarcity — which is no longer a seasonal challenge but a perpetual threat that comes with climate change.”

Any water supply disruption, which is triggered by the El Niño phenomenon, would dampen economic activities and fuel disorder, he said.

The Philippine weather bureau had said over 60 provinces would likely face drought conditions by May.

While the Davao project is touted as the largest of its kind in the country, Mr. Marcos stressed the importance of expediting the completion of all other water projects.

Last month, he also inaugurated a water treatment plant south of Metro Manila. The project by Manila Water Services, Inc. was designed to process 150 million liters of drinking on a daily basis.

Mr. Marcos said the Davao City water project exemplifies a shift away from relying on groundwater sources and toward utilizing surface water sources.

The project, which was a result of public-private partnership (PPP), will utilize the Tamugan River as its water source and use a renewable energy-powered water treatment facility.

It was an initiative of the Davao City Water District and Apo Agua Infrastructura, Inc., a subsidiary of Aboitiz InfraCapital.

Meanwhile, Mr. Marcos also witnessed the signing of the civil works contracts for the P73.38-billion Davao Public Transport Modernization Project, which establishes a 672-kilometer bus route network that would serve 29 interconnected routes with 400 electric buses and more than 500 diesel buses.

“This project will become the template for public transport systems in other cities in our country,” he said. “This people mover will provide faster and more comfortable commutes while decongesting streets filled with private vehicles, and improve road traffic.”

In a separate statement, Department of Transportation (DoTr) Secretary Jaime J. Bautista confirmed the signing of four civil works contracts for the program, specifically the construction of depots, terminals, bus stops, bus lanes, pedestrian lanes, and a driving school under the DPTMP.

“The high-quality bus-based transportation system will have a core service lane connecting major commercial centers, nine feeder routes, eight routes to inner urban areas and links between outer rural areas and terminals in Davao City, Panabo City, and Davao del Norte,” DoTr said.

The civil works for the project, which is funded by the Asian Development Bank, are expected to begin in the third quarter.

It is expected to serve 800,000 passengers daily and generate about 3,000 jobs.

The DPTM is expected to commence initial operation by the fourth quarter of next year while its full operation is targeted in 2026.

In the same city, Mr. Marcos also led the distribution of over 2,500 land titles to land reform beneficiaries, and pledged to boost the Agrarian reform agency’s distribution efforts.

The agency distributed over 90,000 titles last year, he said at an event attended by his predecessor’s daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio.

“I am hoping this will increase or double in 2024,” he said.

The country is now a few months away from the filing of candidacies for the 2025 midterm polls.

An OCTA Research poll conducted from Dec. 10 to 14 showed that the President’s trust rating rose to 76%, an increase of three percentage points from the previous quarter. Only 8% distrust him, and 17% were undecided, the poll said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza with a report from Ashley Erika O. Jose