By Martin Sadongdong
Infrastructure projects that seek to strengthen the country’s health care system are among those that will be prioritized as the government re-examines the “Build, Build, Build” program given the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Vince Dizon, presidential adviser for flagship programs and projects, said in a Laging Handa briefing on Friday that concerned government agencies such as the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Transportation (DOTr), and Department of Works and Highways (DPWH) among others are taking the lead in reviewing the Duterte administration’s ambitious infrastructure program.
“Malalaman natin sa ilang araw kung ano ang magiging priority natin — kung ano ang kailangang pabilisin at kung ano ang kailangang palitan lalo ngayong dinadaanan natin ang problema sa COVID-19 (We will know in the coming days what will be our priority — what projects need to be hastened and what are needed to be changed, especially since we are experiencing dilemma that is the COVID-19),” Dizon said.
“Kailangan magdagdag ng proyekto para palakasin ang health care infrastructure (We need to add more projects to strengthen the health care infrastructure),” he added. Dizon is also the deputy chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 and president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Bases and Conversion Development Authority (BCDA).
According to Dizon, there are 100 flagship or big ticket projects under the Build, Build, Build program. Of these, 43 are targeted to be completed by 2022.
The timetable for the completion of the projects, however, are expected to be pushed back because of the imposed lockdown. Some of the projects are also reportedly being considered to be dropped as the priority list is seen to be trimmed.
“Lahat ng projects ay priority natin pero syempre, uunahin ang proyekto na may pinakamalaki ang impact (All of these projects are being prioritized but those which have the biggest impact will be finished first),” he said.
Once the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) allows the resumption of public projects, Dizon assured them that safety protocols will be kept in place to protect all the workers.
“Very strict ang protocols ng DPWH kaya dapat sundin ito para protektahan ang workers at ang komunidad sa spread ng COVID-19 (The DPWH has very strict protocols, that’s why we need to follow them to protect the workers and the communities against the spread of COVID-19),” he said.
Dizon said the decision of the concerned agencies on what projects will be prioritized, aside from health infrastructures, and what will be sidelined will be known “in the coming days,” as meetings were still being conducted.
The Build, Build, Build program is part of the Duterte administration’s “Dutertenomics,” which refers to the socioeconomic policies of President Duterte.
It aims to increase infrastructure spending until Duterte’s term ends in 2022 “to facilitate the flow of capital, goods, and people” across the country.