Goodbye 'Build, Build, Build'; P1.196-T sought for PBBM's 'Build, Better, More' infrastructure program

"Build, Better, More"--or BBM for short--is officially a program of the Marcos administration, and the executive branch is asking P1.196 trillion from Congress in order to fund it next year.

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. (Noel Pabalate/ File photo/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Amenah Pangandaman acknowledged during a press conference with House reporters Monday, Aug. 22 that the BBM program was an "expansion" of the previous Duterte administration's "Build, Build, Build" infrastructure modernization initiative.

BBM is also the initials of the incumbent President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

The BBM program was listed as a "spending priority" on the DBM's briefer on the 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP), which the agency submitted to the House of Representatives Monday.

"A total of P1.196 trillion has been allocated for the government's 2023 infrastructure programs," read a statement from DBM, referring to the budget being sought from lawmakers.

"The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will receive P718.4- budget in 2023, while the Department of Transportation will receive P167.1 in 2023--an increase by 120.4 percent for its P75.8- budget in 2022, which covers the augmented funding requirements for various foreign assisted railway projects," it stated.

Pangandaman said during the presser that BBM includes "convergence programs with Department of Tourism, Department of Education, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Trade and Industry".

"Related po doon sa Build, Better, More program natin (Related to our Build, Better, More program), which is an expansion of the Build, Build, Build program are programs po under the DOTr," the DBM chief noted.

Among the major transportation infrastructure projects that will be implemented include the North-South Commuter Railway (costing P75.1 billion), Metro Manila Subway Project (P26.3 billion), and Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 Cavite Extension Project (P2.7 billion).

Also linked to the BBM program are more specific infrastructure initiatives such as the Network Development Program (P140.4 billion), Asset Preservation Program (P88.5 billion), and Bridge Program (P38 billion).

Pangandaman said that the Network Development Program's purpose is to "expand the connectivity and road systems across the country". On the other hand, the Asset Preservation Program involves "maintenance, rehabilitation, and reconstruction".

"We also have the Bridge Program po, construction and maintenance and repair of bridges," she added.

In his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 25, Marcos said, "The backbone of an economy is its infrastructure. The infrastructure program of the Duterte administration must not only continue but, whenever possible, be expanded. We shall confidently build on this firm foundation established by my predecessor. As it is in building an edifice, we must keep the momentum and aspire to Build Better More."

The 2023 NEP, which is the precursor of the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) or proposed national budget, will be scrutinized first in the House of Representatives. It will eventually endorse to the Senate its GAB after they approve it on third and final reading.

The NEP for next year is worth P5.268 trillion--the biggest in the country’s history.