Duterte in Cambodia for infrastructure push

Christian Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 10 2017 07:03 PM | Updated as of May 11 2017 12:34 AM

PHNOM PENH - President Rodrigo Duterte arrived Wednesday in this Cambodian capital where he will make a pitch for his ambitious socioeconomic blueprint before top business and political leaders in the region.

Duterte will take part in the World Economic Forum as this year's chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), a half-century-old grouping working to merge its economies into a single market and production base.

The president said the forum would allow him to "engage the larger region to discuss the common vision for Southeast Asia and our peoples."

"We will share our perspectives on what still needs to be done and how we are going to achieve them as a united Asean region," he said in a speech before leaving Manila.

Accompanied by his economic managers, Duterte said he would highlight his infrastructure program "as a platform for public-private partnership for positive change."

Duterte is joined by his defeated running-mate, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who he named as incoming Foreign Secretary shortly before leaving for Cambodia.

The delegation also includes Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia.

Under its "Build, Build, Build" program, Duterte's administration intends to pour in more than P8 trillion in infrastructure spending in the next six years.

Philippine infrastructure is among the poorest in the region, with its elevated train system derided for frequent breakdowns and its main airport considered among the worst in the world.

This poses a challenge, not only to the Philippines, but also to Southeast Asia given the region's connectivity master plan.