Who Built Cebu-Cordova Bridge? Slater Young's Viral Vlog is a Lesson in PPP

Public-Private Partnership, Explained.
Photo/s: Facebook/Slater Young

The colossal Cebu-Cordova bridge, that has become one of the symbols of the Philippines' infrastructure rebirth, was constructed and financed by Metro Pacific's tollways unit, vlogger Slater Young said, after the builder gave him an exclusive tour of the structure.

The video has gone viral with 720,000 views on Young's Facebook and some 320,000 more on YouTube. In the comments section, some users praised the government for the completion of the pay-bridge, officially called the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway or CCLEX.

"A lot of people think that it is a government bridge. This is actually built by Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. This is owned by a private company and this is built to last 100 years," said Young, a civil engineer and former winner of "Pinoy Big Brother" on ABS-CBN.

"It cost P30 billion to build. They built it during the pandemic. I don't know how they did it, pero they were able to overcome the challenges of building during the pandemic," he said.

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The 8.25-kilometer structure will connect southern Cebu island with Cordova and is expected to host 50,000 vehicles daily.

A check with the government's Public Private Partnership Center showed that the CCLEX had an initial projected cost of P27.9 billion. It's an unsolicited project, according to the PPP Center. This means that the private builder, in this case, Metro Pacific Tollways, approached the government to be given permission to build the CCLEX.

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The local governments of Cebu City and Cordova were listed as implementing agencies on behalf of the government, the PPP Center said.

Metro Pacific Tollways is part of the Manuel Pangilinan conglomerate that also operates expressways in Luzon as well as PLDT-Smart, Meralco, Manila Water, and LRT-1 operator Light Rail Manila among others.

Why does the government enter into PPPs? It eases the financial burden on the state to build roads and bridges. When infrastructure is not built via PPP or with private sector money, the government can secure loans from foreign partners at lower interest rates because they are marked as official development assistance or ODA.

Remember that the Philippines operates at a deficit, meaning it borrows every year to cover what revenues from taxes cannot fully finance. 

Depending on the terms of the PPP, the private builder will operate the structure for a specified number of years. When they're not building, businesses can also be tapped to maintain and operate existing infrastructure such as in the case of the LRT-1 and Metro Pacific's Light Rail Manila.

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The CCLEX in particular has become a source of pride for Cebuanos, so much so that in 2021, Cebuana beauty queen Steffi Rose Aberasturi stomped on an unfinished portion of the bridge to campaign for the Miss Universe-Philippines crown that year, also going viral.


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