SONA 2020 Promise Tracker: Infrastructure

Find out how Duterte fared in other sectors

During his 2017 State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Rodrigo Duterte promised to usher in a “golden age of infrastructure” to spur development in the country through his “ambitious” Build, Build, Build (BBB) program.

The big-ticket projects under BBB aim to enhance mobility and interconnectivity of the Philippine islands with a total budget of P8 trillion to P9 trillion until 2022.

As of July 2021, only nine out of 119 flagship infrastructure projects classified as part of the BBB program have been completed. Six of the nine completed projects were either proposed, launched, and/or approved in previous administrations.

The Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3, inaugurated in June 2021, began construction in 2015. It was part of the four-stage South Metro Manila Skyway Project launched during the term of former President Fidel V. Ramos in 1993.

Among the projects Duterte inherited from the administration of Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, his predecessor, were the Angat Water Transmission Improvement Project (unveiled in May 2016); Clark International Airport Expansion Project Phase 1 (approved in 2015); Phase 1 of New Clark City development (formerly named Clark Green City, approved in 2014); the LRT-2 East Extension Project (approved in 2012); and the Pasig-Marikina River Channel Improvement Project Phase III (approved in 2011).

A total of 110 infrastructure projects are still under varying degrees of progress: 14 are expected to be completed in 2021, 17 others by 2022, and 50 more by 2023 and beyond. Twenty-seven are still subject to government approval.

Data from the Department of Finance show the government will likely spend around P1.170 trillion in 2021 and P1.154 trillion in 2022 for the infrastructure sector.

In 2020, the government spent only P869 billion on infrastructure projects, with the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic causing the suspension of construction works.

As Duterte’s administration enters its sixth and final year, here is a list of the president's promises on infrastructure and how he has fared in them:

PROMISE: Improve Davao International Airport

"Everybody’s complaining about the Davao airport and I said, ‘Davao will be the last.’ Kung hindi na maabutan, sabi ko mga taga-Davao, pasensya na kayo. Para walang masabi ang Congress sa atin, baka nga 3% sila doon sa kabila.” (SONA 2019)


The development of the Davao International Airport (DIA) is ongoing. Seven projects have been completed, while construction of a parallel taxiway is underway. Other modernization projects are either in the bidding stage or pending government approval.

In a June 1 Facebook post, Transportation Secretary Arthur “Art” Tugade reported the completion of the following projects to improve the DIA: construction of a covered walkway; concrete topping of roof deck; waterproofing of specific areas; provision of covered pathway and repair of facilities; and the upgrading of comfort rooms and pre-departure areas.

A parallel taxiway, which costs P315 million, is 22.15% complete. It is scheduled to be finished by September 2021, according to a 2020 accomplishment report by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

Following two failed bids, CAAP, as of March 2021, is looking for an engineering consultancy firm to design the airport’s expanded passenger terminal building. It hopes to finally secure a project bid by late 2021 or early 2022, CAAP Davao manager Rex Obcena said in an August 2020 press conference.

Tugade, in a May 11 meeting, said he hopes the NEDA’s discussion about Chelsea Logistics and Infrastructure Holdings Corp.’s proposal to modernize the DIA can be approved by July upon compliance with requirements.

The proposal aims to expand the airport’s passenger terminal building, construct a parallel taxiway, install modern airport information technology systems, and improve airside and landside facilities. It has undergone several revisions under the Department of Transportation (DOTr), NEDA, and CAAP.

If approved, it will undergo a Swiss Challenge where rival businesses are given the chance to outbid Chelsea.

Chelsea Logistics, owned by Davao City-based businessman and Duterte friend Dennis Uy, was granted the original proponent status for the project in 2018.

PROMISE: Maximize the use of existing roads

“I reiterate my directive, my request, my pleadings to the MMDA and all concerned local officials in Metro Manila, and all other cities, to undertake immediate action to ensure the speedy and smooth flow of vehicular traffic. Reclaim all public roads that are being used for private ends. Marami diyan.” (SONA 2019)

"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)


The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said only 74 out of 1,703 local government units (LGUs) it validated have shown improvement in removing road obstructions during the second nationwide road clearing.

Further actions on road clearing have been deferred “so that LGUs can focus on their ongoing vaccination efforts,” the DILG added.

The department initially suspended road clearing operations for eight months starting March 2020 as various local government units (LGUs) struggled to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus in their communities.

It resumed the operations only in mid-November 2020, with an extended deadline until Feb. 15, 2021.

However, only LGUs under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) and GCQ status were required to carry out full and partial road clearing operations, respectively. Operations were suspended for those under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified ECQ.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said road clearing operations are a “year-long” duty of LGUs.

DILG said 15 mayors were charged for failure to comply with the first wave of nationwide road clearing operations in 2019.

In March, the Ombudsman reprimanded Caraga Mayor Alicia Mori of Davao Oriental after being found guilty of simple neglect of duty for failure to comply with Duterte’s order to get rid of road obstructions in her town.

The Ombudsman said Mori failed to pass a municipal ordinance mandating road clearing. She also conducted only one clearing operation in 2019.

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 nine trillion pesos or 160 to 180 billion dollars in infrastructure projects." (SONA 2017)


The government’s total infrastructure spending in 2020 decreased P179.50 billion compared to 2019, according to a June 21 joint statement from NEDA, DOTr, Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). The coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused the suspension of construction works.

The said agencies, which are part of the Duterte administration’s infrastructure cluster, reported that the government spent only P869.5 billion (4.80% of the country’s gross domestic product) in 2020 compared to P1.049 trillion (5.40% of GDP) in 2019.

“While lower than the previous year's P1 trillion infrastructure disbursements, this is an improvement from the P100 billion average spending (based on obligations) per year from 2001 to 2010 (1.6% of GDP),” the statement read.

Meanwhile, the government is not likely to attain Duterte’s target spending of 7% of GDP on infrastructure projects by 2022.

During the 2021 Pre-SONA forum of the economic and infrastructure clusters, Dominguez presented preliminary data indicating the government will allocate only P1.160 trillion (5.90% of GDP) and P1.154 trillion (5.10% of GDP) on infrastructure projects in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

The latest estimates of Dominguez contrasted with his previous statement in the 2019 pre-SONA forum that the government would spend 7% of GDP, or almost P1.810 trillion, in 2022.

Based on data provided by the DOF, the Duterte government has already spent P4.086 trillion on infrastructure projects from 2016 to 2020.

PROMISE: Pave the way for the Golden Age of Infrastructure

“We will make the next few 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)


Flagship projects under Duterte’s BBB program have increased to 119 as of May 2021, from the 100 projects listed in February 2020 and the original 75 in 2019.

Of the 119 big-ticket projects under the BBB, 11 have been completed and 29 are set to be completed by 2021 to 2022, and 79 are expected to be accomplished by 2022 onwards, according to a June 18 progress update by the BCDA, DOTr, DPWH, and NEDA. Several of these include roads, airports, and bridges in different regions and provinces.

Among the projects which were opened to the public since Duterte’s 2020 SONA include the LRT 2 East Extension (inaugurated July 2021) and the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 (inaugurated January 2021).

Projects to be inaugurated this year include the Clark International Airport Expansion Project (by July 2021), the Chinese-funded Binondo-Intramuros Bridge (by December 2021) and Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge (by August 2021), and the Bicol International Airport (near the end of the year).

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)


The Duterte administration has already built and repaired 29,264 kilometers of road and 5,950 bridges, according to a July 21 column of DPWH’s BBB Committee head chairperson Anna Mae Lamentillo.

Meanwhile, 2,515 kilometers of road and 1,020 bridges are under construction as of June 18, 2021.

Some of the road and bridge projects intended to help decongest traffic in major roads in Metro Manila have been fully or partially completed.

In January, the Skyway Stage 3 project was finally inaugurated despite ongoing construction of some segments. The 18.83-kilometer elevated expressway, which began construction under the Aquino administration in 2015, is touted to decongest EDSA and other major thoroughfares by at least 55,000 vehicles every day.

"With the opening of Skyway Stage 3 bypassing the congested Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA), travel time from Buendia to Balintawak is cut from two (2) hours to just 15 to 20 minutes," Public Works Secretary Mark Villar said.

However, motorists have been charged a toll fee starting July 12. The Skyway initially opened for free in December 2020. The expressway costing over P80 billion was funded and built by the San Miguel Corporation under the government’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) scheme.

Other completed road projects are the Segment 10 and C3-Radial Road 10 (C3-R10) sections of the NLEX (North Luzon Expressway) Harbor Link.

Meanwhile, only three of 12 bridge projects crossing Manggahan Floodway, Pasig and Marikina rivers systems under the Metro Manila Logistics Improvement Program have started construction.

The Bonifacio Global City (BGC)-Ortigas Center Link Road Project, which is composed of two bridges linking BGC and the Ortigas districts to reduce travel time by 12 minutes, is expected to be completed in the last quarter of 2021.

Target completion dates for the Chinese-funded Estrella-Pantaleon and Binondo-Intramuros bridges were set back to August and December 2021, respectively. This is seven to nine months behind the original December 2020 and March 2021 completion targets.

Villar said once completed, these bridges would reduce EDSA traffic by 20% and Circumferential Road 5 (C-5) traffic by 10%.

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)


The Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) is still improving the National Government Portal (NGP) (accessible through to be a one-stop-shop website for online-based government transactions.

In April, ICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan reported that his department has integrated to the NGP the Central Business Portal, Philippine Business Databank, and the Integrated Business Permit Licensing System (iBPLS).

Launched in January 2021 in 16 pilot LGUs, the Central Business Portal (accessible through is an online website which allows business registrants to apply for permits online and access information and requirements from national government agencies.

The Philippine Business Databank (accessible through, meanwhile, functions as a search engine for registered businesses in the Philippines. It allows citizens to verify whether or not a specific business is registered.

Finally, the Integrated Business Permit Licensing System (iBPLS) is an online application software developed by the DICT, which aims to speed up processing of government-related permits, clearances, and certificates.

The department continues to onboard more LGUs in using iBPLs. As of April, 446 LGUs have started using it for issuance of business permits.

On April 13, DILG and DICT, among other agencies, signed a joint department memorandum mandating all government agencies and LGUs involved in issuing permits to set up an automated business one-stop shop not later than June 17. to cope with limited physical transactions due to COVID-19.

The memorandum orders LGUs to process business permits and business transactions within three working days.

The government’s shift to automated transactions is in line with Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018, and Duterte’s order to reduce physical queuing in government offices.

PROMISE: Connect the islands of the country through road infrastructures

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


The Duterte administration’s inter-island linkage/mega bridge program is ongoing, with eight bridges in different parts of the country.

Among the projects still under construction are the Panguil Bay bridge (3.17 kilometers), Panglao-Tagbilaran City Offshore Connector Bridge (2.71 kilometers) and the Cebu-Mactan Bridge and Coastal Road Construction Project(3.3 kilometers).

Villar said construction work on Panguil Bay bridge is at 6.87%. Once finished in December 2023, it would be the longest bridge in the country compared to the 2.16- kilometers long San Juanico Bridge.

Meanwhile, the 32.15-kilometer Bataan-Cavite Bridge is currently undergoing detailed engineering design. Given the project’s complexity, Villar admitted it would take a lot of planning and investment on numerous studies.

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)


The DICT, under its National Broadband Plan, has connected a total of 820 government agencies to the Government Network, a physical internet infrastructure that aims to interconnect government agencies and data centers across the country.

As of August 2020, the DICT, with the help of BCDA and in partnership with Facebook, has completed the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure Project by finishing a 250-kilometer cable network corridor that connects the La Union and Aurora cable landing stations.

Launched in November 2017, the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure Project connects international submarine cables to speed up Luzon’s connection to internet hubs in the United States and Asia.

DICT aims to activate 55 nodes in the National Fiber Backbone, establish 32 new GovNet websites that would connect 1,557 agencies, and expand 10 existing GovNet sites to connect another 621 agencies.

It also plans to partner up with more LGUs across the country to establish a provincial broadband network, which would be linked to the National Fiber Backbone.

PROMISE: Implement anti-colorum campaign and dismantle illegal 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)


The government continues its crackdown on out of line/colorum vehicles.

Data as of February 2021 show the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (i-ACT), which unifies traffic management efforts of the government, has impounded 2,846 colorum vehicles and issued 122,863 traffic violation tickets.

After postponing its anti-colorum operations in 2020 to focus on guiding commuters in EDSA, i-ACT has resumed its regular surprise inspections on various roads around Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

In April, Tugade ordered intensified anti-illegal transport operations after 80 individuals tested positive for COVID-19 after being “smuggled” in a colorum truck to Metro Manila.

On July 16, i-ACT apprehended jeepney drivers in Antipolo and Taytay, Rizal for failure to comply with government health and safety protocols. Their licenses were confiscated and they were fined P2,000 for allowing passengers to fully occupy their vehicles.

PROMISE: Complete Public Education Network program by 2022

”The DepEd and the DICT are building up the Public Education Network or PEN that will connect all public schools and DepEd offices nationwide. We will prioritize the connection of all Last Mile Schools and those with no electricity supply can have it via satellite and energized via solar panels. By 2022, before I step down, the PEN shall be realized. [applause] I‘m referring to the program. I will --- I will do it.” (SONA 2020)


Since 2020, the Department of Education (DepEd) and the DICT have been coordinating the implementation of the Public Education Network (PEN), a six- phase program that will fast-track digital connectivity of all public schools and DepEd offices nationwide by June 2022.

PEN is an initiative under the Public Schools of the Future Framework of DepEd that aims to give students and school staff access to various educational systems, such as DepEd Commons, without the need of the internet.

On April 19, DepEd and DICT signed two memoranda of agreement to formalize the deliverables of each agency for the completion of PEN in June 2022.

The DICT will provide short to long term support to DepEd such as allocation of internet bandwidth from NBP, building of internet backbone up to last mile or far-flung schools, and facilitation of the presence of shared telecommunication towers in schools.

According to DepEd, PEN will provide better connectivity for students to DepEd TV, DepEd Commons, and other learning platforms. It will also connect DepEd offices to governance platforms such as the DepEd Enterprise Resource Planning System (DERPS), the Learner Information System (LIS), the DepEd Mobile App, and other partner platforms.

Meanwhile, the DepEd is still working on electrification of schools. Since 2019, the department has energized and/or upgraded electrical connections in 683 (21%) of the 3,273 targeted school sites nationwide. A total of 966 projects were still ongoing in 2020.


Bases Conversion and Development Authority, JOINT STATEMENT OF BCDA, DPWH, DOTr and NEDA: Build Build Build delivers, sets up infra for future, gov’t execs say, June 21, 2021

Official Gazette, Groundbreaking for LRT-2 Masinag extension tomorrow, June 8, 2015, Accessed July 22, 2021

Radio Television Malacañang official YouTube Channel, Launching of Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 (Speech) 1/22/2014, Accessed July 22, 2021

Japan International Cooperation Agency, Metro Manila Urban Transportation Integration | Final Report Summary | March 1999, Accessed July 22, 2021

Toll Regulatory Board, South Metro Manila Skyway Project, Accessed July 22, 2021

Official Gazette, Speech of President Estrada at the opening of Stage I Phase I of the Metro Manila Skyway Project, December 10, 1998, Dec. 10, 1998

Official Gazette, President Aquino at the ceremonial unveiling of the Angat Water Transmission Improvement Project, May 26, 2016

National Economic and Development Authority, NEDA Board Approved Projects (Aquino Administration) | From June 2010 to June 2016, Accessed July 22, 2021

Bases Conversion Development Authority, Clark | The vision of a modern Philippines, 2017

National Economic and Development Authority, NEDA Board approves seven new infra projects, PPP for LRT 2 O&M, Clark Green City Dev’t Plan, May 29, 2014

National Economic and Development Authority, NEDA Board Approved Projects as of 04 June 2015, Accessed July 22, 2021

Department of Finance, Sulong Pilipinas Partners for Progress: A Pre-SONA Economic Development and Infrastructure Clusters Forum, April 26, 2021

Transcripts of Duterte’s past SONA

On improving the Davao International Airport

On maximizing the use of existing roads

On increasing the government’s infrastructure spending

On the golden age of infrastructure

On addressing worsening traffic conditions

On establishing a national government portal

On connecting islands through road infrastructure

On creating a national broadband plan

On implementing an anti-colorum campaign and dismantle illegal terminals

On completing the Public Education Network Program

(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.)


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