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Marcos orders DPWH to focus on infra projects aiding agriculture

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PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., who is also his own Agriculture Secretary, has called on the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to focus on infrastructure projects that benefit food security, Public Works Secretary Manuel M. Bonoan said.

“The President has instructed the prioritization of infrastructure that would aid in the food security program of the government amid rising inflation, as well as the interconnectivity of regions and convergence programs with other agencies,” the DPWH said in a statement on Thursday, citing Mr. Bonoan.

Being his own agriculture secretary allows “things (to) move quickly” in response to global developments, Mr. Bonoan said, noting that the agriculture industry has been facing “severe” problems. 

The “infrastructure projects under DPWH that would help farmers are farm-to-market roads in convergence with the Department of Agriculture (DA),” the DPWH said.

In June, the DPWH reported that it completed farm-to-market road projects in Cabanatuan City and Gabaldon and General Tinio, all in Nueva Ecija.

“The concreting of the local roads required a combined amount of P12.6 million funded through the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2022,” the department said in a statement.

The paving project “was made possible through the convergence program of the DPWH and the Department of Agriculture with funding sourced from the 2021 (General Appropriations Act),” it added.

Mr. Bonoan said he will continue to pursue the big-ticket projects under the Build, Build, Build Program of the former administration “as instructed” by Mr. Marcos.

The DPWH hopes to “continue to tap the private sector for the country’s road network improvement through Public-Private Partnership program.”

In April, DPWH officials from the previous administration said they had completed 12 out 119 flagship projects.

The department had projected the completion of seven more big projects by June 30 and 12 more by December, including the P45.29-billion Southeast Metro Manila Expressway Project and the P75-billion MRT-7 of San Miguel Corp. (SMC).

Mr. Bonoan was SMC Tollways’ president and chief executive officer when he was tapped by Mr. Marcos to head the DPWH. — Arjay L. Balinbin