National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan — PHILIPPINE STAR/KRIZ JOHN ROSALES

THE NATIONAL Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board has approved the inclusion of three more projects under its infrastructure flagship project (IFP) program, bringing the total list to 197 projects worth P8.71 trillion.

NEDA Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan identified the three projects as the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) extension; the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) Scale Up; and the upgrade, expansion, operation, and maintenance of the Laguindingan International Airport in Misamis Oriental.

“With their inclusion in the list, these projects will be prioritized in the government’s annual budget preparation and will benefit from the expedited issuance of applicable permits and licenses, in accordance with current legal frameworks,” he said during a Palace briefing on Wednesday.

Mr. Balisacan said this would also help the government avoid the possibility that project costs would increase and financing charges would be imposed due to delays.

The P23.947-billion TPLEX extension project will be financed through a public-private partnership (PPP) scheme. The 59.4-kilometer, four-lane toll road will start from the last exit of the TPLEX in Rosario, La Union and end at San Juan, La Union.

The $818.4-million PRDP Scale-Up project aims to improve farmers and fisherfolk’s access to markets and profitability in value chains. It is jointly funded by the World Bank, which has committed $600 million or around P34 billion for the project.

The Laguindingan airport upgrade is a PPP project with a total cost of P45.75 billion. It aims to improve and expand the terminal facilities and operations of the airport.

The three projects were included after the NEDA Board revised guidelines for the formulation, prioritization, and monitoring of the IFPs.

“Particularly, projects approved by the Investment Coordination Committee and confirmed by the NEDA Board, which are not in the current IFP list, but meet the criteria indicated in the IFPs guidelines, shall be included in the IFP list, subject to the endorsement from the concerned implementing agencies,” Mr. Balisacan said.

At the same time, Mr. Balisacan said there are now 71 ongoing IFPs worth P4.11 trillion as of July, from 68 projects reported in the first quarter.

“The three additional projects that have advanced to the ‘ongoing’ phase are the Metro Cebu Expressway, the Nautical Highway Network Improvement, and the Daang Maharlika Improvement projects,” he said

These connectivity projects are implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Of the remaining 123 IFPs, Mr. Balisacan said that 27 have been approved for implementation, eight are awaiting government approval, 52 are in the preparation phase, while 36 are under the pre-project preparation phase.

By the end of the year, 12 of the 197 IFPs are expected to be completed.

“Four are on schedule, one is ahead of schedule, the rest have some challenges, but we are speeding up addressing those challenges,” Mr. Balisacan said.

“Next year, we are expecting about 16 of those projects to be completed. We are also making sure we are starting new ones, so our progress is continuous. Many of the projects starting now will be completed by the next administration,” he added.

The IFPs cover physical and digital connectivity, water resources, agriculture, health, power and energy, and other infrastructure.

Mr. Balisacan said the NEDA Board also approved the request for the change in the cost, scope, and implementation timeline of the Flood Risk Management Project for the Cagayan de Oro River. The project aims to reduce flooding in high-risk areas and strengthen the resilience of communities in flood-prone areas.

The NEDA Board also approved the provision of six fire trucks for Marawi City to support the city’s rehabilitation efforts. It will be funded through an official development assistance grant from China worth P72.5 million.

“By ensuring the efficient implementation of high-impact infrastructure projects, the Marcos administration aims to get the job done: we will enhance connectivity, reduce the cost of doing business, promote the creation of high-quality jobs, and ultimately reduce poverty sustainably to improve the lives of every Filipino,” Mr. Balisacan added. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson