Former President Benigno Aquino’s only major project done under his government was a four-kilometer road, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo quoted a review Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar did on infrastructure records of the previous regime.
“The rest were repairs of roads, bridges and other ordinary infrastructure unlike the major projects under the Duterte administration,” Panelo said.
To speed up the “Build, Build, Build” program, expropriation or the action by the state to assume property ownership for public use or benefit will be stepped up.
Panelo said that, according to Villar, within a month, they can get a writ of possession from the court.
“Government will concentrate on that,” he stressed.
Panelo said more than P3 trillion has been spent for infrastructure in the first three years of the Duterte administration as part of its “Build, Build, Build” program to rebut the dismal failure assessment of Senate Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon.
Drilon added it was a “face-saving” move on the part of government to change the list of its “Build, Build, Build” program to make it appear that things were moving under the Duterte administration.
All key projects
“What face-saving? The problem with Frank Drilon, my brod, who is my batchmate at UP Sigma Rho, is his staff doesn’t look, doesn’t research. All he has to do is to check on the records of government on what the projects are,” Panelo said in an interview over a radio station.
“Didn’t I enumerate these one by one? These were many. I said 35 completed projects, 32 are ready to start within six to eight months. Then 21 are under negotiation. They will soon start. Then 45 will be completed during the term of the President,” he added.
“It means that if you will compare the accomplishments of Aquino, those are all minor, while the major projects were undertaken under President Duterte,” Panelo said.
“Disburse within three years of the Duterte administration was more than P3 trillion for infrastructure compared to P1 trillion for the entire six years of Aquino,” he added.
Bases Conversion Development Authority president and chief executive officer and Presidential Adviser for Flagship Programs and Projects Vivencio Dizon said the initial report handed by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) to the Senate, from which Drilon based his views, was from several months ago and should have been updated.
“You know, that was in the initial report of NEDA, I think, several months ago. But like I said, very recently, the President had asked the entire economic team to revisit the list and to look at the projects that we cannot even start because, you know, they don’t meet the threshold of NEDA to execute these,” Dizon said.
Huge humps from RoW
Senate Finance Committee chairman Sonny Angara said Right-of-Way (RoW) issues are a main hindrance in rolling out infrastructure projects.
“I think ‘Build, Build, Build’ is not a failure if we will compare it to the yearly expenditures for the infrastructure and the number of projects and roads that were complete. Those have increased so that is not a dismal failure,” he said in a radio interview.
Angara said the BBB program has complied with World Bank’s recommended percentage of expenditures for infrastructure to improve the economy.
The World Bank recommended countries to spend at least five percent of gross domestic product for infrastructure, which in the Philippines is about 4.6 percent of GDP.
Angara noted that the reconfiguration of the list of infrastructure programs was a “positive development,” because the projects will commence despite the fact that it will not be completed at the end of Duterte’s term.
He explained criticisms on slow implementation due to underspending based on Commission on Audit reports could be misleading as the government is currently operating on a cash-based budgeting system.
The budgeting scheme requires all departments to spend budget allocations within the year that the appropriation was released.
With Hananeel Bordey