MANILA, Philippines — After hours of meeting, President Benigno Aquino III and his Cabinet approved, on Thursday night, 11 infrastructure projects worth more than P100 billion, including a key project connecting the North Luzon Expressway with the Southern Luzon Expressway and the Cavite-Laguna Expressway.
The meeting of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board began at 11 a.m. Thursday, but the President and Cabinet officials emerged only at 6 p.m. for the lighting of Christmas tree in Malacañang, where Mr. Aquino exhorted Filipinos to “bring light’’ to the country.
Approved by the NEDA Board, chaired by the President, were the P25.56-billion NLEX-SLEX Connector slated from 2013 to 2016, and the P43-billion Cavite-Laguna Expressway from 2012-2017, Strategic Communication Secretary Ramon Carandang said.
Both projects were approved “in principle’’ pending review of their costs, he told reporters Thursday night. “They were approved conditionally. We want to do another verification of the costing. What you get are indicative costs. The President wants the numbers to be checked again to see if they can be lowered.’’
With their approval by the NEDA Board, the “projects could move forward,’’ Carandang said.
The rest were the P1.14-billion Albay West Coast Road Project (2014-2016); P2.1-billion Tacloban Airport Redevelopment Project (2013-2016); P8.8-billion Acquisition of Multi-Role Response vessels (2012-2016); P8.87-billion Mactan, Cebu Airport Terminal (Phase 1, 2014-2016); P1.7-billion Contactless Automatic Fare Collection System; P68-million Component A of the Convergence on Chain Enhancement for Rural Growth and Empowerment (2013-2019); P7.39-billion Extension of the Mindanao Rural Development Project 2 (2012-2014); P1.16-billion Rehabilitation of Angat Hydroelectric Plant Turbines 4 and 5 (2013-2014); and P13.14- billion School Infrastructure Project covering 10,679 classrooms (2013-2014).
The projects total P113.54 billion.
“There were some clarifications with some of the others,’’ Carandang said, pointing out that 13 projects were tackled at the meeting.
He said that it took the President and the officials hours to approve the projects because “we go over each one of them in a quite a bit of detail.’’
“Some of them will be internally funded, some of them will have debt; some of them will have private equity funding. There are different financing schemes for the different projects,” he said.
After lighting the 43-foot-high Christmas tree made of small white lanterns and topped by a big white lantern in front of the Kalayaan Hall at around 6:10 p.m., the President issued a pre-Christmas message for Filipinos.
“Let’s not keep for ourselves the light that we can contribute to bring the light of hope on the path that our country is treading. Let’s continue to live out the lesson of the Almighty and focus on the well-being of one another…,’’ he said before Cabinet officials and Malacañang staff and employees. “Once again, advance Merry Christmas to all!’’
He wished everyone luck in the “parlor games’’ they’d be joining in pre-Christmas parties, and advised everyone to watch the food they eat.