February 5, 2021, Manila: In an auspicious presentation, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade unveiled the gigantic engineering marvel Cutter Head of “KAUNLARAN,” the first among the six Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) that will be used for the partial operability section of the Philippines’ FIRST EVER METRO MANILA SUBWAY, today, 5 February 2021.
The Cutter Head is the most substantial part of the TBM, weighing 74 tons. Its main purpose is to break, cut and grind rocks and soil by rotating its 36-piece disc cutter.
In his keynote speech, Secretary Tugade emphasized why the first TBM is aptly named “KAUNLARAN.”
“This Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) symbolizes its name, “KAUNLARAN”. Today, as we applaud the coming of Kaunlaran, I ask you, join us in riding the TBM, and in riding the first Metro Subway because ito ‘ho ay paglakbay papunta sa KAUNLARAN,” Secretary Tugade underscored.
The transportation chief added, “Mr. President, the Metro Manila Subway is one of the answers of DOTr in answering your clarion call of making the Filipino life comfortable. This TBM, and the five more that are coming, so that we achieve partial operability by December of this year, is our way of saying this morning: ‘Mr. President, we are committed to make the Filipino life comfortable.”
DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan noted that the Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP), along with other 12 railway projects throughout the country, are being implemented at record scale and at record pace. He proudly stated that to further fast-track the roll out of the MMSP, a fleet of 25 Japanes-made Tunnel Boring Machines or (TBMs) will be utilized.
“To accelerate the construction of the Metro Manila Subway Project and to minimize road interference during construction, we will be using not just 1 but a fleet of 25 Japanese-made Tunnel Boring Machines or (TBMs),” Usec. Batan explained.
Meanwhile, Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhiko Koshikawa commended the DOTr for its efficient approach in realizing the project, and expressed Japan’s full commitment to support the Philippine government in realizing the much-needed transport infrastructure projects of the country.
“We will continue to support the Philippine government, by utilizing our state of the art technologies, and ensuring a fast and sure approach,” Ambassador Koshikawa expressed.
For his part, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Chief Representative Eigo Azukizawa, likewise assures the Philippine government that the agency will continue to do all the best it can, not just for the project but for the whole projects under the Duterte Administration’s “Build, Build, Build” Program.
“We assure you that JICA will do everything it can, not only for this project, but also for other BBB projects,” Chief Representative Azukizawa said.
During the event, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr., Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar, and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos also conveyed their messages and commendations to the DOTr, led by Secretary Tugade.
Spokesperson Roque said, “On behalf of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, allow me first to congratulate the DOTr, the JICA and the Japanese government for this historic and momentous event. Sa wakas po, magkakaroon na tayo ng subway.”
He added, “Let today’s event be recorded in the annals of the Philippine history as another first of the Duterte administration.”
For his part, Secretary Villar shared all the hardwork that Secretary Tugade had put in, just to fulfill and realize the MMSP.
“I remember going with you to Japan. Even though we are not directly involved in this subway, I was there to witness what you had to go through to go to this point—the work that you have put in, I don’t think anyone will ever really truly know or appreciate the hard work that it took to get to this point,” Secretary Villar said.
Lauding the success of the event, Chairman Abalos said that the project is vital, particularly in making the country’s transport and traffic system efficient and effective.
“As the first subway railway system that will provide mass transport in the National Capital Region (NCR), the MMDA strongly believes that accelerating our mass transport system with this unified subway station will steer us the right course,” Chairman Abalos said.
The arrival of the first TBM Cutter Head also signals the continuous arrival of the other TBM equipment and materials. Furthermore, on the following days of February 2021, the remaining parts of the machine will arrive and will be transported at the site for assembly, which will then be followed by the conduct of mandatory operational test prior to the lowering and main drive underground. It is expected to be done in the third quarter of this year.
President and CEO Roberto Jose Castillo of SFTE-JV—the contractor of the project, expresses the company’s commitment in expediting the construction of the project.
“We commit to you the best that we can to try to finish this and make it partially operational by December. We will hire as many people, to be able to deliver the project as required by the DOTr and the Filipino people,” President and CEO Castillo said.
The MMSP is the first underground railway system in the country that will provide the most modern mass transportation in the National Capital Region (NCR), from Valenzuela City to Bicutan, Parañaque, and NAIA Terminal 3 in Pasay, and will further stretch across North and South zones of the Greater Capital Region.
Key officials who were also present in the event are Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Valenzuela 1st District Congressman Weslie Gatchalian, Economic Minister Masahiro Nakata of the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines, and Embassy of Japan Economic Affairs First Secretary Kudo Hiroyuki.