Dear Senator Drilon,

It was widely reported in the media that you have stated that the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program of the Duterte administration is a ‘dismal failure.’

You were quoted by reporters as saying, “We have only two and a half years left of this administration, I don’t think any substantial progress in so far as the program is concerned will be achieved as I would repeat the execution is simply dismal.”

With all due respect, Mr. Senator, and with your indulgence, kindly allow us to reiterate what we have been consistently reporting throughout the last 3 years of this administration.

Permit us, Sir, to express our respectful disagreement to your assertion, with this simple presentation of the projects that we have undertaken at the DOTr, under the “Build, Build, Build” program.

Since July 2016, we have overseen, or are overseeing, the following projects:

Aviation and Airports

In the aviation and airports sector alone, the DOTr and its attached agencies have completed 64 airport projects under the Duterte administration, with 133 more ongoing.

Completed projects include the Bohol-Panglao International Airport, which began feasibility study in 2000, but construction only started in June 2015 with 48% slippage upon transition to the current administration. It was inaugurated in November 2018.

Construction of the new terminal of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport was delayed for 11 months in 2016. It was inaugurated in 2017 and is now fully operational.

The Sangley Airport in Cavite, which already had initial construction works last year, underwent 24/7 construction this year and had its operational dry run this October.

The Lal-Lo International Airport, inaugurated in March 2018, now has an upgraded runway capable of handling bigger aircraft. It received its first international commercial flight in 2018.

The Tacloban Airport’s expanded passenger terminal building was inaugurated in March 2018. Rehabilitation works for the Ormoc Airport have been completed in July 2019, after the airport was severely damaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) back in 2013.

The Puerto Princesa International Airport’s new passenger terminal building was completed in May 2017. The San Vicente Airport, also in Palawan, was inaugurated in May 2018, and it can now accommodate light aircraft and chartered flights.

Domestic airports also underwent improvements. These include the gateways in Camiguin, Virac, and Tuguegarao.

Meanwhile, ongoing airport projects include the Bicol International Airport which was delayed for 11 years and is now more than halfway complete; the second passenger terminal building of the Clark International Airport; the Davao International Airport; Bukidnon Airport; Surigao Airport; and Kalibo Airport.

Another key aviation project is the Communications, Navigation, Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM). The implementation of this project was 10 years delayed. Now, the system is fully operational, bringing the erstwhile total of 3 radars to currently 13 and ensuring 100% coverage of Philippine airspace for aviation safety.


For railways, we have six projects with ongoing construction and one undergoing rehabilitation.

The country’s first underground railway system, the Metro Manila Subway, started works in February 2019, and is slated to start site preparation and earthworks in December 2019.

The much-delayed MRT-7, whose Concession Agreement was signed in 2008 but had nearly zero movement until 2016, is now 50% complete.

Approved by the NEDA Board in 2007 and stalled since 2009, the Common Station is now undergoing 24/7 construction and 50% complete.

The LRT-1 Cavite Extension, delayed for 19 years, finally started full-blast construction this year.

The LRT-2 East Extension project is now in the final stages of construction and is set for completion by 2020.

The MRT-3, battered from years of poor and erratic maintenance, is now undergoing comprehensive rehabilitation with Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan.

PNR Clark Phase 1 is in full-blast construction and on its way to partial completion by 2021.

PNR Clark Phase 2, PNR Calamba, PNR Bicol, Subic-Clark Railway, and the Mindanao Railway are all in the pipeline, and are now undergoing various stages of procurement and pre-construction works.

Road Transport

Under the road sector, we opened the country’s first ‘landport,’ the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX), a project that aims to regulate city bus flow and help ease metro traffic. Daily ridership has increased from 10,000 passengers in the fourth quarter of 2018 to 80,000 passengers by the third quarter of 2019. To date, the PITX has served a more than 14 million passengers.


Across the archipelago, seaports are being upgraded and rehabilitated to better serve the public. Currently, the DOTr has completed 243 commercial and social/tourism seaport projects, while 136 are ongoing.

Notable port projects include the construction of the country’s biggest Passenger Terminal Building at the Port of Cagayan de Oro, and the rehabilitation of Opol Port in Misamis Oriental, Sasa Port in Davao, Butuan Port in Agusan Del Norte, Tubigon Port in Bohol, Limasawa Port in Southern Leyte, and General Santos (Makar Wharf).

The country’s first barge terminal, the Cavite Gateway Terminal, which aims to reduce truck traffic on major roads and offer a cost-effective access to goods between Manila and Cavite through the waterways, had been built.

On maritime safety, as of November 2019, we have 560 out of 600 lighthouses operational nationwide.

We are enclosing the scope and details of these major projects, as well as the remaining ongoing or pipeline projects, in the attached infographics.

Feel free, Sir, to browse through them, or let your staff validate them with us. They are most welcome to fact-check, or even schedule site inspections at their convenience.

Even their specific budget allocation are well-managed and well-secured. We have carefully observed the proper disbursement process, and in fact have improved our obligation and disbursement rates as compared to the last four years. And we have done so without affecting actual project timeline and deliverability.

In fact, Sir, the timelines we have set for the projects are the reason why we have done so many in the limited time that we have. Secretary Tugade himself has raised the standards in project completion and progress reports, such that all project stakeholders are prepared and ready to work even on a 24/7 basis. He even crafted the concept of “partial operability,” which is a deadline within a deadline, another standard for project completion.

Mr. Senator, these are all actual, tangible, executed and currently in progress projects. These are the infrastructure programs that were previously deemed pipe dreams, but are now a reality.

Their completion would certainly impact the lives of our people for the better, and this is what we at the DOTr and other stakeholders of the BBB program have been striving to achieve ever since we were handed the reins.

With this open letter, we are reaching out to you, Senator Drilon, with an earnest desire to enlighten, and with fervent hope, transform your perception of dismal failure to one of true recognition of the work that we have done.

We are confident, Mr. Senator, that these projects can very well speak for themselves, that they are realizable and achievable infrastructure programs which will significantly enhance the quality of life of the Filipinos, and enable our country to transform from an emerging economy into a developed country.

Notwithstanding your statement, we at the DOTr remain steadfast and committed to deliver our mandate, and regard your utterance more as a challenge and an inspiration, to be better, to exceed expectations, and join the rest of our co-workers in government in upholding the best interest of our nation.

Thank you.

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DOTr writes a striking open letter to Sen. Franklin Drilon DOTr writes a striking open letter to Sen. Franklin Drilon Reviewed by Kristian S. on 14 November Rating: 5

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