‘Grow, Grow, Grow’ with ‘Build, Build, Build’

The government’s “Build, Build, Build” program is about to begin in earnest, with 76 flagship projects already approved by the Duterte administration. The new Mactan International Airport, although began during the previous Aquino administration, was inaugurated by President Duterte last June 7, setting the tone for the coming months and years when the 76 big projects will begin all over the country.

The approved projects are 32 roads and bridges, 10 water resources and irrigation projects, nine railways, six airports, five flood control projects, four seaports, four power plants, three rapid bus transits, and three urban redevelopment programs.

Construction of nine of the projects will begin in the second half of this year, which started yesterday, July 1, These are the P4.61-billion Binondo-Intramuros Bridge, the P1.37-billion Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge, both in Metro Manila and both funded with China grants; the P4.37-billion Chico River Irrigation Project; the P35.26-billion Tagum-Davao-Digos segment of the Mindanao Railway; the P4.86-billion Panguil Bay Bridge, financed by Korea Official Development Assistance (ODA); and the P1-billion wall repair and drainage improvement of the Pasig River from Delpan to the Napindan Channel. There are also three public-private partnership projects – a P1.78-billion government center, a P850-million commercial center, and a P3.33-billion housing center at Clark City.

While some of these projects will be funded with grants and loans from China and Korea and with private investments, steady funding in the next five years amounting to P786 billion will come from the national government budget, under the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Transportation, with funds from the recently approved Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN).

Even as it launches this massive infrastructure program which will probably be the principal legacy of the Duterte administration, we hope the government will not neglect one other sector of national development, the agricultural sector. Last Wednesday, Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara urged the Duterte administration to now plan to revive the country’s ailing agriculture.

“We may be exhibiting among the fastest growth rates in the world today, but such growth would be for nothing if it doesn’t reach our farmers and fisherfolk,” he said. He pointed out that 60 percent of poor Filipinos today are in agriculture.

The “Build, Build, Build” program of President Duterte is underway. It would be great not only for the nation as a whole but also for the people, especially those in the agricultural sector, if there will also be a “Grow, Grow, Grow” program alongside it, as urged by Senator Angara and other officials.