By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter
PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Wednesday said the Philippines is eyeing to finance 80 potential infrastructure projects through the country’s first sovereign wealth fund.
“Currently, we have identified about 80 potential infrastructure projects that are financeable through the fund, the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF),” he said in a speech at a Philippine economic briefing in San Francisco that was attended by executives from top US-based companies.
“These projects offer high rates of return and significant socioeconomic impact.”
Mr. Marcos did not mention the target projects for the Maharlika fund, but noted the government has prioritized 197 projects as part of the infrastructure push.
“We are prioritizing the implementation of 197 infrastructure flagship projects worth around $155 billion with a sharp focus on upgrading physical and digital connectivity, water, agriculture, health, transport, and energy.”
The government is targeting to spend 5-6% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) for infrastructure until 2028.
Mr. Marcos said the MIF, which he wants to be fully operational before the end of the year, is key to the future of the government’s infrastructure program as it could serve as an additional source and mode of financing.
Mr. Marcos flew to San Francisco, California on Tuesday night for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit, which ends on Friday.
The Philippine leader said the country seeks to increase its participation in the US semiconductor value chain.
“You can depend on partners in the Philippines,” he said at a roundtable meeting with the Semiconductor Industry Association in California. “We are ready to work with you.”
The White House said a partnership in the semiconductor industry was tackled during Mr. Marcos’ meeting with US Vice-President Kamala Harris.
The partnership with the Philippines seeks “to grow and diversify the global semiconductor ecosystem under the International Technology Security and Innovation (ITSI) Fund, created by the CHIPS Act of 2022,” a readout from the White House said.
Mr. Marcos said the Philippines is ready to absorb and support the additional corresponding capacity for assembly, packaging, and test that will be required by the US’ plan to boost front-end wafer capacity for advanced technologies and products.
Mr. Marcos also proposed the establishment of a lab-scale wafer fabrication facility in the Philippines that can support a science and technology center proposed by the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries of the Philippines Foundation, Inc.
“Another viable alternative is to have a Philippine-based US Semicon company build a proof-of-concept wafer fab near their facility with the participation of promising candidates such as Texas Instruments and Analog Devices,” he added.
Semiconductors accounted for the highest share of the Philippines’ electronic product exports in 2022, accounting for about 47.4% of the country’s total export basket.
Meanwhile, the Philippines and the US signed various deals on the sidelines of the APEC Summit, including a pre-feasibility study on the potential of the Philippine nuclear energy and a proposed cancer hospital.
Mr. Marcos said US-based Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp. and Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) signed a memorandum of agreement for pre-feasibility study on the potential use of micro-modular reactors in the Philippines.
He said an agreement between Ayala Healthcare Holdings, Inc. (AC Health) and US-based Varian Medical Systems for the establishment of the Philippines’ first cancer hospital “reflects the Philippines’ growing potential as a leading healthcare destination in Asia.”
The Philippines’ Lloyd Laboratories, Inc. and US-based Difgen Pharmaceuticals LLC, meanwhile, signed a deal for a collaboration on the filing of abbreviated new drug applications and the marketing of jointly developed pharmaceutical products within the US.
An investment of up to $20 million will also be undertaken by Lloyd Laboratories for the establishment and operation of the first US Food and Drug Administration-approved manufacturing facility in the Philippines.
Orbits Corp. and American company Astranis Space Technologies Corp. also signed a deal for the deployment of the first two internet satellites dedicated to the Philippines. It’s expected to generate $400 million worth of investment over the next eight years.