Without dismissing the gains of the Duterte administration’s Build, Build, Build program, presidential aspirant and Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday, Nov. 18, stressed the importance of building “better” and targeting the poorest and most vulnerable to benefit from the infrastructure projects.
If she wins the presidency, she wants to “prioritize building a nationwide active transport infrastructure” that will benefit regular Filipinos and not just car owners, noting how the EDSA and Cebu bus rapid transits have done this.
“Infrastructure spending has to be improved: The point is not about building more, but about building better, making sure that quality is assured, corruption is eliminated, and the infrastructure we build actually contributes towards making the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable better,” she said during the Philippine Business Conference and Expo (PBC&E) Presidentiables’ Forum.
Aside from Robredo, presidential hopefuls Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and Senators Ping Lacson, Manny Pacquiao, and Bong Go were also in attendance.
Former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. did not attend the forum, wherein the presidentiables were asked about various issues and concerns that affect the country.
Despite the Duterte administration’s banner achievement, Build, Build, Build project, Robredo said her own infrastructure program will be building “roads for people, not cars.”
“This means shifting away from the failed car-centric public budgeting. We need a better balance for a better normal,” she said.
Some of the projects she mentioned that she wants to pursue in terms of building infrastructures are bus rapid transits, protected bike lanes, bike racks, safe pathways, better bus stops, and railways for long-term needs.
She noted that the Duterte administration’s infrastructure spending could have been better, mentioning that the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) disbursement from 2017 to 2020 never exceeded 60 percent while the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) spending did not breach the 45 percent mark.
“Our government will prioritize feasible and strategic projects that provide high impact for the Filipino people,” Robredo said.
Although she will also prioritize building and improving infrastructure in her presidency, the Vice President wants to be more “discerning” of the projects that her administration will undertake.
“To ensure integrity in the allocation of infrastructure contracts: We will map the points where corruption enters the procurement process, and we will plug those holes. This means being more discerning on which projects are actually needed, and which ones are being used as cash cows by politicians,” she said.
The presidential aspirant wants evidence-based cost estimates and regular audit checks on the procurement process, adding that she will “proactively” disclose data relevant to government projects.
Asked about bureaucratic delays when it comes to approval of permits and other necessary documents to start a government project, Robredo agreed that these processes would have to be streamlined.
She also sought to ease the process of evaluation criteria, submission of bids, and procurement of materials and supplies.