Gov't expands infra project list to 100, insists program 'absolutely not' a failure

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 13 2019 06:18 PM

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration has officially revised the list of flagship infrastructure projects under its Build Build Build program to focus on more "feasible" ones, an official said Wednesday. 

The government seeks to “prioritize and focus its energies on the biggest and most urgent and game-changing projects" while deferring those that were deemed "not feasible," Presidential Adviser for Flagship Programs and Projects Vince Dizon said in a press briefing.

Several inter-island bridges including a bridge linking Leyte and Bicol were among the shelved projects, Dizon said. 

The list, however, has been expanded to 100 from the initial 75, he added. 

“When the feasibility studies were done, they were either too expensive or the technology isn’t there yet to build them now. We’re not saying that those bridges are never gonna be built, but right now government is better off using its resources, building other things that are feasible now,” he added.

“We don’t want to build white elephants. We don’t want to build something that is not yet feasible as of this time...So, we had to revisit and put in projects that are urgent that we can already start now. These include several PPP projects,” Dizon said.

Transport and mobility projects compose 70 percent of the new list of priority infrastructure projects with 30 percent spread over projects on power, water, information and communication technology, and urban development. 

A copy of the revised list, estimated to be worth P4.3 trillion compared to the initial P8 trillion, will be submitted to Congress, he said. 

NOT A FAILURE

Dizon, meanwhile, denied claims of Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon that Duterte’s Build Build Build program was a dismal failure

“Is Build, Build, Build a failure? Absolutely not, and the number speaks for themselves. Construction is up, public spending on infrastructure is up, and this has led to faster economic growth,” Dizon said.

Based on the revised list, 35 of the total 100 priority infra projects are currently in construction, while another 32 projects are expected to begin in 6 to 8 months. 

Some 21 projects are now in the advanced stages of government approval, while 12 are in the advanced stages of feasibility studies, he said.

Dizon is confident that at least 38 of these priority projects will be completed by 2022, with 22 partially operational or achieving substantial completion. The remaining 40 projects are expected to be completed beyond 2022.

The Duterte administration has significantly spent more for its infrastructure program compared to previous administrations, and the state of infrastructure when Duterte took over was “dismal,” Dizon said. 

“If I may borrow the term of “dismal,” the state of infrastructure when the President took over was dismal. I mean, we easily forget. I mean, MRT, airports, lack of seaports. I mean… you know, it doesn’t really take statistics to know that. Alam naman natin lahat iyon eh (We all know that),” Dizon said.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said Wednesday he would file a bill seeking "emergency powers" for the chief executive for the faster rollout of his Build, Build, Build program.