By Genalyn Kabiling
The government’s massive infrastructure program is not a failure but the administration could “do better” and hasten the construction efforts, an adviser of President Duterte said Wednesday.
Presidential Adviser for Flagship Programs and Projects Secretary Vince Dizon said they intend to speed up the infrastructure program in the second half of President Duterte’s term.
“Is Build, Build, Build a failure? Absolutely not, and the number speaks for themselves. Construction is up. Public spending on infrastructure is up, and this has led to faster economic growth,” he said during a Palace press briefing.
“Are we happy with the progress? We could do better, and we admit that…The difficulty, the hardship that our people endure everyday can’t wait. We have to do this quickly,” said Dizon, also President and CEO of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).
Of the 100 infrastructure flagship projects, he said the government aims to complete at least 38 projects before the end of Duterte’s term in 2022. He said 22 flagship projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program will also be partially operational by 2022 while the rest will be completed beyond that year.
The projects, with an estimated cost of P4.2 trillion, covers transport and mobility, power, water, information and communications technology and urban development and renewal.
Dizon laid down the status of the revised list of 100 flagship projects under Build, Build, Build program in a bid to dispute the criticism of Senator Franklin Drilon that the massive infrastructure program was a dismal failure.
“Build, Build, Build never promised that we would complete all these infrastructure projects in five or six years – that’s impossible. Imposible iyon, nobody promised that. But what we promised is number one, we will start. Believe me, there have been projects collecting dust in government agencies that have taken decades to start,” Dizon said.
“The most important step is to start. So our commitment and all will be started: 38 completed, 22 partially operational, substantially completed, 40 will most likely be completed beyond 2022. That is our honest assessment – that is our honest to goodness estimation of these flagship projects based on the estimates of the implementing agencies,” he added.
At present, Dizon said of the 100 big-ticket infrastructure items, the construction for 35 projects are ongoing while 32 will commence construction in six to eight months. Twenty-one projects are in advanced stages of government approval while 12 projects are in advanced stages of feasibility studies.
He said they intend to complete a significant number of the projects to build momentum for the next administrations to sustain these projects. “Tabi na muna natin ang pulitika; tabi na muna natin ang personal na interes. Kung ano iyong makakabuti sa kababayan natin, ituloy natin [Let’s aside politics. Let’s aside personal interest. We should continue those that will benefit the people],” he said.
The government earlier increased the list of flagship projects to 100 from the previous 75 following a review ordered by President Duterte.
“The President has asked the entire economic team to revisit the list and to look at the projects that we cannot even start because, you know, they don’t meet the threshold of NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) for us to start them or build them now,” he said.
“It’s the halfway term of the President and we want to be able to do more and we want to be able to fast track and even speed up the infrastructure program in the second half of the term of the President, and we wanted to rationalize,” he said.
He said they intend to submit a revised list of the BBB projects to the Senate.
The 100 flagship projects are included in the Build, Build, Build program composed of thousands of projects. The estimated cost of the entire program is above P8 trillion.