Korean envoy joins Marcos in inauguration of Korean-funded project Samar Pacific Coastal Road

In photo: Korean Ambassador Lee Sang-hwa (Center) discusses with President Bongbong Marcos the upcoming 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and the Philippines, and expresses his commitment to strengthening ties between the two countries. (Photo from Embassy of Korea in the Philippines)

Underscores strong Korea-Philippines friendship and gears up for 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations next year

By Monsi A. Serrano

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. leads the inauguration of the Samar Pacific Coastal Road (SPCR) Project in Northern Samar on Friday, July 14, 2023.

Joining Marcos in the inauguration were Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Manuel M. Bonoan, Korean Ambassador to the Philippines, H.E. Lee Sang-hwa, Governor of Northern Samar, Edwin Marino C. Ongchuan, Northern Samar, First District Representative, Paul R. Daza and Northern Samar, Second District Representative, Harris Christopher M. Ongchuan. Also present were DPWH Senior Undersecretary Emil K. Sadain, Korea Eximbank Country Director Moon Jae-jeong, officials from the Philippine Government, representatives from the Samar Island Partnership for Peace and Development (SIPPAD), and Ilsung Construction Co., Ltd.

The SPCR Project, funded with assistance from the South Korean Government through Korea Eximbank, stands as one of the key infrastructure flagship projects of the Philippine Government. The project was made possible by a concessional loan agreement of USD 20.6 million under the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) Official Development Assistance (ODA) program, which was executed by both governments on August 19, 2013. Construction commenced on May 13, 2018, and now, after several years of dedicated work, the road is officially open for public use.

The Samar Pacific Coastal Road spans 11.6 kilometers, connecting the coastal municipalities of Laoang and Palapag. This road complements the existing circumferential road loop on Samar Island. The completion of this project brings numerous benefits to the region, most notably in terms of improved transportation efficiency. Previously, the journey from the provincial capital of Catarman to Palapag and nearby municipalities would take approximately seven hours; however, with the opening of the SPCR, the travel time has been reduced to two hours. The enhanced accessibility and reduced travel duration will have a positive impact on the local economy, contributing to poverty reduction and supporting overall economic growth in Northern Samar.

By reducing transport costs and facilitating the movement of people, goods, and services, the Samar Pacific Coastal Road will promote commerce and trade in the region. Additionally, it is expected to stimulate the development of potential agricultural lands and local industries, creating more opportunities for the community. 

Expressing his profound gratitude, Marcos commended the Korean government, particularly through Korea Eximbank, for their support of the Samar Pacific Coastal Road Project and other administration projects under the Build Better More program.

The project aims to unlock economic opportunities in the province and the region, ultimately leading to a more secure community. He highlighted that there are currently 21 Korea-funded projects in the Philippines, with the number expected to continually increase. Additionally, he emphasized that the inauguration of the SPCR project confirms the strong collaborative partnership between the Philippines and Korea. President Marcos also warmly recalled the aid and efforts made by Korea to assist the local community during the devastating typhoon Yolanda that ravaged the province.

For his part, Korean Ambassador Lee Sang-hwa reaffirms the long-time deep friendship between Korea and the Philippines, highlighting the significance of the project and the strong bilateral ties between the two countries. Ambassador Lee expressed pride in taking part in the infrastructure project and emphasized how it aligns with the Indo-Pacific Strategy, the flagship diplomatic initiative of the Korean President, H.E. Yoon Suk Yeol and the country’s “Build Better More” Policy. Additionally, he mentioned the importance of resilient infrastructure in eradicating poverty and advancing sustainable development.

Ambassador Lee commended the partnership between the two governments and private enterprises in the infrastructure sector, noting the contributions of Korean engineering and construction companies in the Philippines. He cited the North-South Commuter Railways project as an example and expressed his anticipation for future collaborations between Korea and the Philippines.

Looking ahead, Ambassador Lee mentioned the upcoming 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and the Philippines, expressing his commitment to strengthening ties between the two countries. He highlighted the signing of the new EDCF framework agreement in 2022, amounting to US$3 billion, as a testament to the Korean government’s dedication to being a long-term development partner of the Philippines.

The inauguration of the Samar Pacific Coastal Road marks a significant milestone in the infrastructure development of Northern Samar. The completed project is set to bring enhanced connectivity, economic progress, and improved quality of life for the region’s residents.

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