News SONA 2018 Promise Tracker

SONA 2018 Promise Tracker: Infrastructure

The government’s P9-trillion Build, Build, Build program is now halfway to “revolutionizing” public infrastructures in the country, according to Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar.

In 2018, new bridges and roads were built while construction and rehabilitation of airports continued. A third major player has joined the telecommunications industry to break the current duopoly of Smart Communications and Globe Telecom.

In his second State of the Nation Address in 2017, Duterte said: “We will make the next few years the Golden Age of Infrastructure in the Philippines to enhance our mobility and connectivity and thereby spur equitable growth and development in the country.”

In its latest report, the National Economic and Development Authority said the completion of 75 “game-changing and high-impact” flagship infrastructure projects of the government would have to wait until after the term of President Duterte. Twenty-five projects are expected to be finished by 2022 while the other 50 should be completed beyond 2022.

As his administration moves into the second half of its six-year term, here is the list of promises presenting how he has fared in the infrastructure sector.

PROMISE: Allow the entry of a new major telecommunication player

“A draft Terms of Reference for the entry of a new, major industry player is at hand…We shall, therefore, lower interconnection rates between all industry players.” (SONA 2018)


The draft Terms of Reference (TOR) for the new major player in the telecommunications industry was released on July 28, 2018.

In November 2018, the National Telecommunications Commission announced that Mindanao Islamic Telephone Co. (Mislatel) consortium, which has been renamed as Dito Telecommunity, will be the new major player in the telecommunication industry.

Mislatel received its Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) on July 8, despite questions about its franchise and the ties of Mislatel Chair Dennis Uy to Duterte. Uy helped bankroll Duterte’s campaign in the 2016 presidential elections.

Mislatel is committed to provide an internet speed of 55 Mbps covering 84.01% of the country.

PROMISE: Increase the government’s infrastructure spending

“We are targeting to increase Government spending on infrastructure from 5 percent of the GDP in 2017 to 7 percent of the GDP by 2022, amounting to a total of eight to ninetrillion pesos or 160 to 180 billion dollars in infrastructure projects.” (SONA 2017)

In progress

Infrastructure spending has increased to P886.2 billion or 5.1% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2018 from the 4.4% or P690.8 billion in 2017.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the government’s infrastructure expenses in 2018 is “double the average spending” in 50 years.

Dominguez added the government expects to spend 7% of GDP or almost P1 trillion in 2022.

PROMISE: Pave the way for the Golden Age of Infrastructure

“We will make the new years the Golden Age of Infrastructure in the Philippines to enhance our mobility and connectivity, and thereby spur development [and equitable growth] in the country. In other words, we are going to Build, Build and Build.” (SONA 2017)

In progress

The 75 flagship projects of the government under its Build, Build, and Build program are still in various stages of implementation. These “game-changing and high-impact infrastructure projects” consisting of new roads, airports, and bridges, among others, are expected to cost P2.18 trillion.

Among the 75 flagship projects, 37 have been approved and 29 are up for approval. Nine projects don’t require any approval from the National Economic and Development Authority Board such as the Clark City Government Center, Clark Green City Commercial Center, and the Clark Green City Mixed-Income Housing.

According to a NEDA report, 25 flagship projects are expected to be completed by 2022 while the other 50 will be accomplished beyond 2022. These projects include the expansion of Clark International Airport and the Bonifacio Global City to Ortigas Center Road Link Project.

PROMISE: Improve road infrastructures to address worsening traffic conditions

“We shall complete strategic road and bridge projects and some of the road sections shall be widened and improved to address the worsening traffic.” (SONA 2017)

In progress

The government has already built 2,709 bridges across the country and constructed and repaired 179.92 out of 9,610 kilometers of trade and tourism access roads and another 1,096 of 2,140 kilometers of farm-to-market roads.

Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar said various road projects of the government in Metro Manila are expected to reduce the load of vehicles along EDSA, which he called the “symbol of congestion.” He said reducing by 250,000 to 300,000 the number of cars passing through EDSA will help “revert the traffic to an acceptable level.” Among the traffic-solution projects are Skyway, NLEX Harbor Link, and NLEX-SLEX Connector Road.

Villar said the Skyway Stage 3 project connecting Makati and Quezon City will open in July 2019. He backed Duterte’s recent controversial statement that a five-minute travel time from Makati to Quezon City is possible through the Skyway.

PROMISE: China to build bridges along the Pasig River for free

“China has committed to build two bridges to span Pasig River, free of
charge. So that you will be comfortable in crossing Pasig.” (SONA 2017)


The Philippine Government was able to secure multi-billion grants from China for the construction of two bridges along the Pasig River in Metro Manila in 2017.

These Chinese-funded bridges are the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge in Manila and the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge between Mandaluyong and Makati, which are expected to be completed by 2021.

PROMISE: Connect the islands of the country through road infrastructures

“We shall pursue inter-island linkage projects.” (SONA 2016)

In progress

The Duterte administration has already built and repaired 2,709 bridges, connecting different parts of the country.

Among the bridges already completed are the Anduyan Bridge in La Union, Laoag City Bypass Bridge, and the Matampay Bridge in Cotabato City.

The government plans to build 17 short- and long-span bridges that will connect the islands of the country. Among these inter-island projects are three Tawi-Tawi bridges, Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge, Sorsogon-Samar Link Bridge, Panguil Bay Bridge, and the Panglao-Tagbilaran City Offshore Connector Bridge.

PROMISE: Build new airports by getting funding from China

“We are building new airports. We might get some money also from China and will have new airports in the coming days.” (SONA 2017)


The Duterte administration has already finished the construction of two new international airports: Lal-Lo International Airport (formerly Cagayan North International Airport) in Cagayan and the Bohol-Panglao International Airport. These two airport projects started before Duterte’s term.

Chinese firms have been reportedly financing the expansion and construction of airports in the country such as of the Lal-Lo International Airport and the Sangley Airport in Cavite.

TheP735.6-billion New Manila International Airport in Bulacan is being eyed to help decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The new airport is anticipated to be operational within “four to six years” from the target start of construction in 2020.

PROMISE: Establish a National Government Portal for efficient public service

“The National Government Portal, which we launched recently, will allow faster and easier delivery of public services and reduce the number of visits of the public to agencies for government transactions.” (SONA 2017)

“All government agencies are instructed to enable their clients to submit applications for coordination to other agencies combined… And national portal, yes because it’s our… parang website.” (SONA 2016)

Not yet rated

The effectiveness of the National Government Portal (NGP), a project of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), in delivering “faster and easier” government online transactions has yet to be confirmed.

In the Pre-SONA forum of the Economic and Infrastructure Clusters on July 1, Villar announced that the NGP has already linked 173 “e-services” in its website ( Among NGP’s features is a curated list of direct links to various online government services such as the processing of requests for

birth certificates from the Philippine Statistical Authority (PSA).

As one of the three “e-government” flagship projects of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the NGP is being designed to aggregate all government online resources and services in a single site.

Its completion is expected in 2022, according to the 2019 NGP Project Implementation Plan.

PROMISE: Create a National Broadband Plan to fast-track the deployment of “infostructures” and improve internet speed

“I have also ordered the newly-created DICT, Information and Communication Technology, to develop a National Broadband Plan to accelerate the deployment of fiber optic cables and wireless technologies to improve internet speed.” (SONA 2016)

In progress

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) is still in progress following its rollout in 2017 upon consultations with stakeholders of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

The NBP was designed as the “blueprint” in establishing infostructures (portmanteau of information structures) in the country to fast-track the deployment of fiber optic cables and wireless technologies, and improve the reliability and affordability of internet.

The NBP has successfully tested and surveyed 100% of the dark fiber, or the unused fiber optic cables, in Mindanao, 90% in Visayas and 60% in Luzon.

The DICT has also signed a Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding with the National Electrification Administration and the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, Inc. for the expansion of fiber reach and enabling of medium and small Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to offer service to the public through open access facilities. The government has also sealed 21 memoranda of understanding with Common Tower Providers for the acceleration of rehabilitation and establishment of communication towers.

Villar said the start of the operation of the cable landing and repeater signal stations in July is expected to increase the capacity of internet bandwidth in the Philippines to two terabytes.

The NBP aims to link more than 600 government agencies by 2019 and 2020 for a faster government transaction.

PROMISE: Provide free Wi-Fi access in public areas

“We have installed free Wi-Fi Internet in almost 400 public places around the country. We hope that the public will use to access important information and services.” (SONA 2017)

“Wi-Fi access shall be provided at no charge in selected public places including parks, plazas, public libraries, schools, government hospitals, train stations, airports and seaports.” (SONA 2016)


The Pipol Konek, or the Free Wi-Fi Internet Access in Public Access Project, of the government has already covered 17 regions, 58 provinces, 394 municipalities and cities through its 2,565 live sites as of May 2018, according to Villar.

Government data indicate that approximately 2,540,618 unique devices/users have already used Pipol Konek.

In the President’s Report to the People 2016-2018, Duterte wrote that 5,308 additional Wi-Fi sites are expected to be operational by the first quarter of 2019. However, data from the DICT show that only 235 live sites were added o its 2,677 free public Wi-Fi hotspots as of June 26, 2019.

Meanwhile, the DICT signed a partnership with the United Nations Development Programme to fast-track the rollout of Pipol Konek.

PROMISE: Implement anti-colorum campaign and out-of-line apprehension and dismantle terminals

“Our anti-colorum campaign and out-of-line apprehension including the removal of terminals will be intensified and, my God, it will be done. Immediately, immediately.” (SONA 2016)

In progress

After Duterte cited issues on terminals and colorum vehicles in his SONA in July 2017, the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (i-ACT) was relaunched “to enforce harmonized traffic laws, circulars and ordinances through a single enforcement system.”

Latest available government data indicate that, as of June 2019, i-ACT has already impounded 2330 colorum vehicles, removed 76,722 illegal vendors, issued 107,647 traffic violation tickets, and towed 54,054 illegally parked vehicles.

There has been an initiative by the Metro Manila Council, the governing body of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, to shut down all 46 provincial bus terminals along EDSA in June to “minimize traffic congestion.” However, the plan was met with disapproval; its implementing guidelines have yet to be finished.

PROMISE: Maximize the use of existing roads

“To address lack of road infrastructure in Metro Manila, usage of existing roads will be maximized. Thus, there is a need to cooperate and coordinate with LGUs to map out secondary routes and to consult various stakeholders, including the public transport operators.” (SONA 2016)

In progress

In 2017, the MMDA signed an agreement with the Quezon City government for Kalayaan Lanes, express routes for people heading to shopping establishments, especially during the holiday season. Under the agreement, the MMDA and the Quezon City Government are tasked to “clear major thoroughfares” of any road obstruction to ensure the free flow of traffic.

Meanwhile, the MMDA and various LGUs have been conducting clearing operations, including Mabuhay Lanes, in Metro Manila to keep roads free from obstruction, such as of vendors and illegally-parked vehicles.

Recent initiatives to clear roads in the metro are being done in front of the Balintawak Market in Quezon City, Divisoria and Carriedo in Manila, and Baclaran in Paranaque.


Department of Finance, Build, Build, Build program, Jan. 23, 2018

Official Gazette, RA 10963

Department of Finance, What is the Tax Reform Program?, Understanding the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program, July 28, 2018

Department of Finance, YEARENDER DOF ensures funding for ‘Build, Build, Build’ projects, Jan. 14, 2019

Department of Budget and Management, Budget Secretary identifies 2019 infrastructure projects in economic forum, Aug. 28, 2018

ABS-CBN News Online, DPWH: Kalahati ng ‘Build, Build, Build’ projects, nagawa na | Bandila, July 4, 2019

On new telco player

On infrastructure spending

On golden age of infrastructure

On addressing traffic issues

On China building bridges

On connecting islands

On building airports

On National Government Portal

On National Broadband

On free wifi access

On anti-colorum campaign

On maximizing roads

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)