Home » Aviation » Roxas formally takes over Philippine transport portfolio

NEWLY installed Philippine Transportation and Communications Secretary Manuel Roxas III has his work cut out for him. Assuming office last Monday, he vowed to pursue reforms and help fight corruption in all government deals.

For starters, he has formed four bodies, one of which will look into questionable projects approved by the past administration, including the Greater Maritime Access popularly known as GMA Ro-Ro Ports and Northrail, both of which his predecessor Jose de Jesus recommended cancelling.

The three other bodies will be led by an undersecretary. One will be for day-to-day operations of attached agencies, another for the development of new or “greenfield” projects, and the last for the development of a master plan for the long-term integration of the country’s mass transport system.

Roxas is looking to rationalize and optimize the national transport network. This, he said, would entail addressing deep-seated issues such as the quality and productivity of Philippine ports; the rationale and quality of airport infrastructure investments; inadequate transport logistics; the very small role that the rail sector plays in the inter- and intra-urban transport of freight and passengers; improvement of road quality which has lagged behind targets due to a combination of under-funding, misallocation of limited funds, and poor project implementation.

Roxas is also eyeing the rationalization and opti-mization of the transport and logistics network to identify bottlenecks, cut losses on questionable projects, and be innovative in identifying opportunities for public-private partnerships.

“The deficient transport infrastructure, attributed to two decades of underinvestment and weak sector governance, is a major factor for the country’s relatively poor performance over the last two decades,” the former senator said.

“Transportation and communications is the glue that holds domestic economy together. Without adequate connective infrastructure, the domestic supply chain for food, goods and services is crippled; jobs and investments cannot move out of the handful of urban enclaves; and access to social services is severely constrained,” he added.

Roxas described the country’s transport system as “disjointed, expensive and undercapitalized”, noting “it’s more expensive to ship a package from Mindanao to Manila than shipping that same package from San Francisco, which is across the Pacific Ocean.”

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