National transportation master plan, more ports among strategies included in PDP

The creation of a National Transportation Master Plan, construction and expansion of seaports, and development of cold chain facilities are part of strategies to achieve a seamless and inclusive connectivity under the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028.

The strategies are part of PDP Chapter 12 (Expand and Upgrade Infrastructure) geared toward delivering sustainable, resilient, integrated, and modern infrastructure systems. The chapter comprises strategies corresponding to each of the infrastructure subsectors: connectivity (physical and digital), water resources, energy, and social infrastructure.

Under the connectivity subsector, the plan aims to “move people, goods and information through modernized and expanded transport and digital infrastructure, with active participation of the private sector.” The strategies to achieve such include:

  • Formulating and adopting a National Transportation Master Plan, which will integrate land use and urban planning methodologies (e.g., transit-oriented development, township approach, and high-density development), and guide the rational development of an intermodal transport infrastructure network that takes into consideration compatibility, economic feasibility, comparative advantages, climate risks, and linkages of desired transportation modes.
  • Improving the nautical highway by constructing and expanding seaports to support economic sectors such as agriculture and trade
  • Building new linkages and assessing strategic location of new ports to create new rural growth areas
  • Increasing capacity of roll-on/roll-off (Ro-Ro) facilities and their processes digitalized to address congestion and delays
  • Building larger Ro-Ro ports supported with modern ancillary facilities for passengers
  • Applying electronic terminal management systems such as electronic ticketing and streamlining of manifest submissions
  • Replacing or retrofitting of aging fleets to mitigate the risk of maritime accidents
  • Continued implementation of the Maritime Industry Development Plan to achieve a more sustainable and globally competitive maritime sector through maritime education, technology, and innovations
  • Pursuing construction, expansion, and upgrade of roads and routes aligned with the nautical highway network
  • Upgrading of road transport corridors leading to airports and ports, including installation of weighbridges to prevent overloading
  • Improving existing airports and the development of new ones to address future demand
  • Pursuing bundling of airports as possible public-public partnership projects to encourage private sector investments
  • Developing gateway airports connected to feeder airports to facilitate access to the country’s various tourist destinations
  • Adopting a service standard in all airports to quantitatively measure the adequacy of airport passenger facilities and plan for applicable interventions
  • Night-rating of airports will be continued to alleviate airport traffic congestion
  • Developing and expanding cargo and freight rail infrastructure to connect to strategic infrastructure such as ports
  • Prioritization of railway development for cargo and freight, particularly for long-distance deliveries
  • Connecting dry ports and other inland cargo terminals by freight rail to ease the movement of goods to or from the ports
  • Establishing truck routes to service medium- and short-distance deliveries
  • Developing cold chain logistics and management facilities. Under the plan, government will implement cold chain logistics projects to secure the transportation throughout the supply chain of temperature-sensitive commodities and products, such as perishable food products, medical supplies, and other pharmaceutical supplies. In 2020, the Philippine Cold Chain Industry Roadmap was launched, targeting a 10% to 15% increase in cold storage capacity annually, or 50,000 pallets more each year, to serve the increasing needs of various industries
  • Making seamless and integrating implementation of the Anti-Red Tape Authority-led Unified Logistics Pass and the Philippine Ports Authority’s Transport Accreditation, Permit and Pass for Ports to facilitate the transport of basic goods and necessities. This aims to further streamline the varying and burdensome pass-through requirements and restrictions of ports, economic zones, and local government units, as well as promote a more business-conducive environment in the logistics sector.

Other strategies under connectivity:

  • Intermodal transport facilities will be constructed and upgraded to achieve seamless connectivity.
  • Active transport networks will be developed.
  • Applicable mass transportation systems (i.e., railways, road-based, and ferry systems) will be developed in metropolitan areas.
  • Reforms in the provision of public transport services will be strengthened.
  • Digital infrastructure will be modernized and expanded.
  • Gender mainstreaming, inclusion, and accessibility will be main considerations in all stages of transport project implementation.
  • Universal digital connectivity needs will be addressed.

As part of the legislative agenda for connectivity, proposed policies include the enactment of a National Transport Policy Act and Magna Carta for Commuters; rationalizing the mandates of transport agencies; and creating an independent body for transport safety and security, among others.

The target results under Chapter 12 include increasing public infrastructure spending from 5.9% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the first to third quarters of 2022 to 6% in 2028; increasing the number of passengers transported via air and sea from 35.72 million in 2021 to 202.34 million in 2028; increasing cargo transported via air and sea from 470.3 million metric tons (MT) in 2021 to 1.85 billion MT in 2028; and decreasing road travel time in key corridors from 3.285 hours in 2019 to 3.207 hours in 2028.

The new PDP was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board, chaired by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., last December 16.

The PDP is the country’s blueprint for socioeconomic development over the medium term crafted at the beginning of each new administration.

The PDP is composed of 16 chapters covering the social and production sectors, as well as institutions and the environment as the elements of an enabling landscape.

The plan lays out the corresponding strategies including policies, programs, and legislative priorities that are needed to achieve identified socioeconomic targets. Through a whole-of-society and whole-of-government process, the PDP was crafted from the inputs of various stakeholders and sectoral experts.

Following the NEDA Board’s approval, a draft executive order was submitted to the Office of the President mandating all government agencies to align their respective programs, projects, and activities with the PDP 2023-2028. – By Roumina Pablo

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