Big-Ticket Project President, Railways President, and President of the Golden Age of Trains.
These are the new monikers that Albay 2nd district Rep. Joey Salceda has come up with for President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.
“President Marcos is increasingly looking like the Big-Ticket Project President, especially big rai," Salceda said in a statement Friday, Aug. 26.
Referring to the proposed P5.268-trillion national budget for next year, the Bicolano said, "PBBM multiplied the railway program project almost to five times the 2022 amount, from P23.12 billion to P113.99 billion. Rail got the biggest increment as a percent, among any major line item in the 2023 NEP (National Expenditure Program)."
Listed under the NEP with a whopping P1.196-trillion proposed budget is the "Build, Better, More" program--Marcos's expansion of the Duterte administration's "Build, Build, Build" flagship infrastructure modernization program.
Salceda had coined the phrase Build, Better, More or BBM--after the President's initials--several week before the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) submitted the NEP to the House of Representatives.
" is moving towards national backbone projects, after PRRD’s (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) main infrastructure legacy was the more than 20,000 infrastructure projects in the countryside," he said.
“PRRD’s strategy was to bring the resources of the national government down to the countryside. PBBM is going to maximize the benefits of that strategy by bringing these thousands of smaller infrastructure projects together through big connecting projects," added the House Committee on Ways and Means chairman.
Salceda adds that the bulk of the P380 billion unprogrammed appropriations for foreign-assisted projects will come from loan proceeds for railway projects. P108 billion in peso counterpart for rail projects have already been anticipated in the budget.
He says that the government is bullish about receiving loan proceeds from the Bicol Railway project which is now being renegotiated with China.
“The President proposed a large window of unprogrammed appropriations from loan proceeds so that, once the Bicol Railway loans actually materialize, we can immediately get the ball rolling with construction,” Salceda added.
“This would be the largest ever railway budget of any Philippine president, making PBBM decisively the ‘Railways President.’”
Salceda adds that the budget “certainly kicks off the era of Build Better More. Rail is decisively better at lowering logistics costs than any other land transport option. It is the cheapest per-kilogram option for freight. And clearly, the President wants significantly more of it.”
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“Railway is also necessarily of longer distance than road infrastructure. So, PBBM is clearly trying to build a national backbone through rail. Interregional trade is bound to expand dramatically once this program is completed,” Salceda said.
He said that, together with the backbone Bicol Rail, "I am optimistic about smaller metro-wide systems such as Legazpi Tramway which will probably draw from the Infrastructure Preparation and Innovation Facility of the DOTr.”
“If all of these developments keep going well, PBBM will be the President of the Golden Age of Trains in the country,” the House leader further said.