New government infrastructure projects will need up to P27.4 billion next year for right-of-way (ROW) acquisitions to pave the way for their implementation under the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program.
Deputy Speaker and Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said that based on the proposed 2021 National Expenditure Program, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) plan to spend P14.8 billion and P12.6 billion, respectively, on ROW acquisitions.
“The DOTr’s ROW outlay will set in motion new rail and maritime transport projects, including the North-South Commuter Railway, the Philippine National Railways’ South Long Haul and the New Cebu International Container Port. In the case of the DPWH, the ROW expenses are meant to clear the way for the construction of new expressways, flyovers, bridges and flood control projects.” Pimentel said.
He said the law requires both departments to settle all ROW obligations before the start of projects. ROW expenses are authorized under RA 0752 — An Act Facilitating the Acquisition of ROW Site or Location for National Government Infrastructure Projects.
Under the same law, the national government may acquire private real property needed as ROW sites or locations for any project. Acquisitions may be by donation, negotiated sale, expropriation, or any other legal mode.
All such modes must be compliant with Section 9 of the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Constitution which forbids the taking of private property for public use without just compensation.
In the 2020 General Appropriations Act, the DOTr has P9 billion for ROW payments while the DPWH has P11.5 billion.