The administration of the late former President Benigno S. Aquino III had its share of significant contributions to public infrastructure development.
This was the main takeaway from the recent virtual town hall discussion hosted by think tank Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute (ADRi) in commemoration of Ninoy Aquino Day. One of the guests during the online event was Rogelio “Babes” Singson, who served as Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) secretary of the late former president, Benigno S. Aquino III.
Singson discussed major strategic policies adopted by the Aquino administration namely the good governance reform and anti-corruption program, strategic convergence program, the public-private-partnership (PPP) program, and the DPWH management policy of “Right Projects, Right Cost, Right Quality, Right on Time, and Implemented by the Right People.”
“What we did was really upgrade our Philippine National Roads into higher standards and safer roads,” he noted.
“We did not implement projects that only benefited a few or were based on the whims of the politicians in the area. So, we had to choose the right projects,” Singson said.
He said that under the PPP initiative, the Aquino administration developed the “High Standard Highway Master Plan for Metro Manila and radius from NCR (National Capital Region).”
He said this means that “all the way to the North, to Tarlac, all the way to the South, leading to Batangas and to Quezon province, we had already established the High Standard Highway to connect and disperse people from Metro Manila.”
The former DPWH chief also reported significant accomplishments when it comes to paving road and reparing old bridges.
“We already had paved almost 100 percent of almost all primary national roads, 90 percent of secondary roads, and tertiary at 80 percent. In terms of bridges, we have already fixed all of the bridges. We had already made permanent all the wooden bridges we inherited in 2010.”
And then there’s the improved linkages to Mindanao, which Singson said he “consider(s) a major legacy of the Aquino administration”.
“We had to open a lot of east-west which led to the major ports of Cagayan De Oro, Nasipit, Sasa Port in Davao, and General Santos. So what we did was connect the ports, airports to the major production centers in the whole of Mindanao,” he said.
For his part, ADRi President Prof. Dindo Manhit said that the country’s future leaders can get “valuable lessons on building back better” by contrasting the practices, policies, and results of the Duterte administration with those of the Aquino administration.
“I believe that principled leadership, good governance, a dignified foreign policy is good economics. We need a reality check for all Filipinos and government leaders. In facing challenges, great leaders may be adventurous in their decisions and actions. Greater leaders decide by principle, and confidently act through reforms. This is the political wisdom behind building back better that should enlighten us in the 2022 national elections,” Manhit said.
Aquino, or “PNoy”, passed away last June 24 at the age of 61 due to renal disease, secondary to diabetes.