MANILA - Sen. Nancy Binay on Friday criticized the Department of Transportation for failing to start Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) projects half a decade since the Philippines borrowed millions of dollars for the creation of special lanes meant to decongest traffic in Metro Manila and in Cebu.
The World Bank in 2014 approved the Philippines' loan for the Cebu BRT Project, estimated to cost up to $228.50 million (P11 billion), according to the international financial institution's website.
"Babayarin natin 'yung utang nang ni-isang hukay ay walang nagaganap," Binay said during the DOTr's budget hearing in the Senate.
(We will pay for the loan without even a single digging done.)
"Meron pa 'yang binabayaran na default loss na pag hindi tayo nakaka-comply, binabayaran din natin," she said, without mentioning how much the additional payments would cost taxpayers.
(We also have to pay for the default loss if we fail to comply with the agreement.)
Under the deal, the Philippine agreed to finish the bus rapid transit in Cebu on June 30, 2021.
Binay said the national government earmarked the following amounts to fund the Cebu and other BRT projects:
- 2015 - P1.3 billion
- 2016 - P1.3 billion
- 2017 - P1 billion
- 2018 - P3 billion
- 2019 - P422 million
In 2018, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said that the BRT line in Metro Manila was canceled due to right of way issues.
While there is no funding for the Cebu BRT under the current budget, the P422 million allotted for the project last year was realigned to other programs, DOTr Assistant Secretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Mark Steven Pastor told senators.
"We realigned almost P300 million for COVID. 'Yung P100 million, hindi pa nare-release (has yet to be released)," he said.
"Unfortunately, nagbabayad ang Pilipinas ng commitment fees," Pastor said, without disclosing the amount.
But the World Bank is amenable for an extension, he said.
DOTr Undersecretary for Finance Garry V. De Guzman said the agency plans to "request" for some unprogrammed funds from the Department of Budget and Management to pursue the project.