MANILA — Government improved transportation and made travel more convenient to Filipinos in the past 6 years of President Rodrigo Duterte's administration despite some lapses, his transport secretary said on Monday.
Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade cited rehabilitation of several airports, stronger satellite communications system, and the eradication of travel woes brought by "laglag-bala" and "bukas-bahage" in airports.
"DOTr has completed 250 airport projects in the airport in the country. it included repair, construction of a so-called passenger terminal. It [supported] the auxiliary service that is needed in the aviation and airport sectors," the official said during his speech at the "Duterte Legacy Summit" in Pasay City.
"Now the laglag-bala and the bukas-bahage are gone. You can travel to various airports and to your destination without fear of being held in the airport because some ammunitions found or to be found in the luggages," he added.
Tugade also said bike lanes were established amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the MRT-3 rehabilitation. Train rides at the railway will remain free until June 30, the last day of Duterte's administration.
He said government created 563-kilometers of bike lane networks in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Metro Davao under Duterte.
"Happy na happy ang mga bikers... Itong mode of transport na ito ay hindi lang maganda kung hindi ligtas," he said.
The Philippines' public transport system came to a halt and became limited at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, as large swathes of the country went on lockdown.
This led to the rise of biking commuters, with advocates calling on the government to establish protected bike lanes in major thoroughfares.
The sorry state of the transport system during the pandemic was highlighted by the death of Michelle Silvertino in Pasay City, who waited 5 days to board a bus to her hometown in Camarines Sur.
This prompted the government to boost the "Balik-Probinsya" program, spearheaded by Duterte's long-time aide Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, which initially aimed to promote robust development in the countryside and decongest Metro Manila.
"We may not have solved all the transport problems in the [past] 6 years. But siguro hindi namin nagawa, i-accept niyo naman we have addressed many," said Tugade in his speech.
"Never before in the history of this country has the DOTr done so much in so short of time. Kailangan ipagmalaki ko notwithstanding COVID-19, earthquakes.. Ito lang po masasabi ko... In the DOTr, we delivered."