Escudero: Bring ‘’Build, Build, Build’’ to the countryside

Published December 9, 2021, 2:27 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Sorsogon Governor Francis ‘’Chiz’’ Escudero on Thursday, Dec. 9 said the massive infrastructure program of the Duterte administration should be expanded, expedited and brought outside big urban centers to help generate employment, create livelihood opportunities and stir economic activities in the countryside.

While the economy remains sluggish due to the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the incoming administration should prepare a blue print on how to distribute equitably the construction of infrastructure projects in rural areas, Escudero said.

Escudero is seeking a new six-year term in the Senate under the Lacson/Sotto tandem. He is a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition.

According to Escudero, projects like roads, schools, public hospitals or health centers, farm irrigation, agriculture-related infrastructure and tourism support projects, among others, should be carried out in the countryside in order to help local government units, usually the top employers in many localities, in providing jobs and livelihood opportunities in their communities.

The latest quarterly labor force survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that unemployment had eased last October to 7.4 percent (3.5 million) from 8.9 percent (4.25 million) last month—the highest joblessness rate so far this year.

However, underemployment rose two percent to 16.1 percent (7.04 million) from 14.2 percent (6.18 million) during the safe period.

Many administrations in the past had embarked on massive development projects, some making it their centerpiece program, to address not just infrastructure backlog but to create jobs and attract investors.

Under the Duterte administration, which dubbed it as “Build, Build, Build,” some 6.1 million jobs have been created from 2016 to 2020, according to data from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). The agency is looking to create 1 million more jobs by the end of the year.

The government has identified 112 projects for its massive infrastructure project to the tune of P8 trillion to P9 trillion. The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) recently said that at least 18 big-ticket “Build, Build, Build” projects worth P235.9 billion would have been completed by the time President Rodrigo Duterte’s term is finished in June 2022.