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Metro subway study about to be completed

HONG KONG – An “ambitious” P300-billion subway project will be one of the centerpieces of President Duterte’s economic plan to be completed before his six-year term of office ends in 2022.

The transport project that will run from Quezon City to Taguig City, apparently via C-5 Road, will play a significant role in government’s bid to further ease the debilitating traffic condition that has slowed down economic activities in Metro Manila.

Transportation and Communications Secretary Arthur Tugade disclosed that the $2-billion Northrail project will push through as Philippines and China are nearing a settlement of their loan agreement dispute that started after then President Aquino stopped its implementation on account of allegations of overpricing.

“We highlighted certain things which for the first time will be happening in the country. Foremost of which is No. 1, the subway,” said Tugade during a press conference of government economic managers who joined Duterte in the Cambodia leg of his working visit in three Asian destinations.

Also present during the press briefing were presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, President and Chief Executive Officer Vince Dizon of the Bases Conversion Development Authority, and National Economic and Development Authority Director General Ernesto Pernia.

Tugade revealed that feasibility study of the subway project, part of the “build-build-build” catchphrase of the so-called “Dutertenomics,” is currently being conducted with the Japan International Cooperation Agency as the expected financier.

“As we would like to mention again now, JICA, which is spearheading the project, agreed that the loan agreement between Japan and the Philippines hopefully will be formally signed in November when the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would have visited the country,” Tugade said.

Tugade said that completion of the project is anticipated within four and one-half years after its commencement, thus, making it extremely possible for the current administration to inaugurate it by 2022.

The subway will be an underground mass transit system that will run between 23 and 25 kilometers covering 14 stations, said Tugade.

The feasibility study is about to be completed, he added. “A feasibility study which will serve as the foundation in establishing the cost of the project and it will serve as the trigger in doing our negotiation to have a financial package,” Tugade said.

Tugade also revealed that the settlement of the arbitration proceedigns between China and the Philippines is expected to be finalized in 30 days, thus, triggering speculations that this issue will be part of Duterte’s agenda in his next stop in Beijing, China.

A flagship project of the Arroyo administration, the 80-kilometer modern railway system was envisioned to link Caloocan City with the Clark Airfield where an international airport is being developed.

“Please be patient a little bit more. Siguro, in the next couple of weeks we will formalize a settlement on the North Rail,” he said. (Ben R. Rosario)