MANILA - The House of Representatives on Monday approved a bill for a 30-year national infrastructure program that will last from 2023 up to 2052.
Voting 254 in favor with 3 against and zero abstention, Congress approved on third and final reading House Bill 8078.
“This will be an all-encompassing program covering not only public works like roads, bridges and expressways, which we commonly refer to as infrastructure, but also energy, water resources, information and technology, agri-fisheries, food logistics, and socially-oriented structures such as school buildings and other educational facilities,” said Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez in a statement.
Romualdez said the bill will institutionalize the ‘Build Better More’ program of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
It mandates the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), in consultation with implementing agencies and stakeholders, to formulate the 30-year infrastructure program in detail, including measurable targets and the selection, prioritization and phasing of specific projects.
Under the bill, the total annual allocation for the program shall be at least 5 percent of gross domestic product, provided that the constitutional command giving budgetary priority to education shall be observed.
It also defines the functions and responsibilities of implementing agencies in each sector of the 30-year national infrastructure program, starting with transport and logistics; energy; water resources; information and communications technology; social infrastructure; and agri-fisheries modernization and food logistics.
Gabriela Rep Arlene Brosas meanwhile voted against the bill saying the focus on infra “has barely translated to meaningful transformative changes in the Philippine economy, especially on the quality of life of Filipinos."
She said the program lacks a social housing component.
"May listahan ng core infrastructure projects na gagawing prayoridad, pero hindi naman kasama ang pampublikong pabahay na sana’y tutugon sa dambuhalang housing backlog ng bansa at sa problema sa pabahay na ginagawang negosyo ng mga korporasyon sa kasalukuyan. " Brosas added.
She also warned that institutionalizing a 30-year infrastructure program will lock in public resources in projects that will primarily benefit foreign investors, exporters of steel and cement and local partners for a long period of time.
“These resources should have been used to give rise to national industries producing light goods to capital goods, in tandem with genuine agrarian reform," Brosas also said.
The House will transmit the bill to the Senate for action.