Chinese construction firm proposes 270-km highway linking Laoag to La Union

By John Victor D. Ordoñez | BusinessWorld
January 30, 2023


A CHINESE state-run construction company has proposed to build a 270-kilometer (km) highway from Laoag City to Rosario, La Union, the Palace said in a statement.

It said the proposal was put forward by China Communications Construction Co. Ltd. (CCCC), whose representatives met with President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Monday.

Mr. Marcos was quoted as saying that CCCC is welcome to participate in public-private partnerships (PPP) in the Philippines.

“The President said the central part of his government’s economic policy is the establishment, endorsement, and promotion of PPPs, in which the CCCC could participate,” Malacañang said.

It was unclear whether the Laoag-Rosario Highway would be structured as a PPP, or whether the CCCC pitch amounted to an unsolicited proposal, for which the government has the right to seek competing proposals.

Laoag is the capital of the President’s home province of Ilocos Norte. Rosario is a major road junction on the west coast of Northern Luzon which is a key turning-off point for vehicles headed to Baguio and the Cordilleras. Rosario is also the northernmost point of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) toll road.

A Laoag-to-Rosario highway would connect the Ilocos Norte capital to Metro Manila via a series of toll roads like TPLEX, the Central Luzon Link Expressway (CLLEX), the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), and the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX).

CCCC also pitched projects like the Juncao Technology Demonstration Center and Juncao Industrial Park, which would cultivate and process various types of grass.

These projects would be funded through aid from the Chinese government.

Last year, the Philippines lifted foreign ownership restrictions on renewable energy generation projects.

CCCC, via some of its 60 wholly-owned units, has also engaged in reclamation projects in Metro Manila, including the Pasig Harbor City Reclamation Project and Manila Waterfront City Development Project, the Palace said.

The CCCC officials also updated Mr. Marcos on the group’s ongoing infrastructure projects in the Philippines, which include the Samal Island to Davao City Connector Project and the North & South Harbor Bridge.

The President told the officials that the Philippines will not limit its partnerships with foreign corporations to PPPs.

“It can be of any nature — commercial venture or joint venture with a local partner,” Mr. Marcos was quoted as telling CCCC in his meeting with the company’s officials.

“Of course, the PPP, where you have a partnership with government, even a government-to-government arrangement — is also something that we have been doing for a long time and again that we wish to further.”

Malacañang has said Chinese investors had pledged $22.8 billion in investments after meeting with Mr. Marcos during his visit to Beijing on Jan. 4.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has committed to “address the trade deficit gap as China readies to accept high-value Philippine agriculture products, the Palace said.

The Philippines and China signed 14 bilateral agreements covering infrastructure, agriculture, trade and tourism during the visit. — John Victor D. Ordoñez