Around 38 of the 100 flagship infrastructure projects are targeted to be completed by the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term in 2022, the head of Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) said on Wednesday.
“In the list of 100 [infrastructure projects], this is our estimation, give or take, this is what we believed we can achieve: 38 out of the 100, roughly 40 percent,” BCDA president and CEO Vivencio Dizon said in a weekly Palace economic briefing.
Dizon, who concurrently serves as Presidential Adviser for Flagship Programs and Projects, said 22 out of 100 key infrastructure projects were “partially operational or substantially completed,” while the remaining 40 percent would be completed “beyond 2020.”
Of the 100 big-ticket infrastructure projects, 35 are underway, 32 will commence construction in the next six to eight months, 21 are in the advanced stages of government approval, and the remaining 12 are in advanced stages of feasibility study, Dizon said.
Dizon said roughly PHP4.3 trillion, or half of the PHP9 trillion that will be earmarked for the infrastructure program, will be spent for the implementation of the flagship projects.
Last Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon claimed the Duterte administration’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program is a “dismal failure.”
At the press conference, Dizon denied the senator’s claim, emphasizing the current administration has so far completed several infrastructure projects.
Among the completed projects are North Luzon Expressway Harbor Link Segment 10, Davao del Norte’s Governor Miranda Bridge, Laguna Lake Highway, Isabela’s Pigalo Bridge, Tarlac–Pangasinan–La Union Expressway-Pozorrubio, Bohol-Panglao International Airport, Cagayan de Oro Passenger Terminal, Communications Navigations System/Air Traffic Management, and New Clark City Phase 1A, Dizon noted.
“There is a lot of activity in construction, and in particular, a lot of activity in public sector construction, meaning, in government construction or government projects,” he said.
“So I just want to emphasize the point: 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 a faster economic growth,” Dizon added.
Numbers don’t lie
Contrary to Drilon’s allegation that only nine of the “Build, Build, Build” projects have started construction, Dizon said it was the previous Aquino government which showed “dismal” performance in boosting the infrastructure sector.
Dizon noted that from 2016 to 2018, the Duterte administration has already spent nearly PHP1 trillion, compared to PHP380 billion spent by its predecessor.
“The state of infrastructure when the President took over was dismal. I mean, we easily forget,” he said.
“When the President launched ‘Build, Build, Build,’ through the economic team way back in late 2016, the plan to spend more on infrastructure has been happening. And as they say, numbers do not lie,” Dizon added.
Spend more, disburse faster
Despite its accomplishments in improving the infrastructure sector in the country, the government is not yet satisfied with its performance, as it is convinced it can “do more,” Dizon admitted.
Dizon said Duterte has already directed his economic team to “revisit” the roster of initial flagship projects, in an effort to hasten the implementation of the “Build, Build, Build” program.
“We wanna be able to spend more, we wanna be able to disburse faster, we wanna be able to spend faster. While we’ve already achieved a lot, we’re not contented, we’re not satisfied. We want to do even more,” he said.
“What we wanted to do was look at the list, revisit it. Why? Because it’s the halfway term of the President and we want to be able to do more and we want to be able to fast-track and even speed up the infrastructure program in the second half of the term of the President,” he added.
‘Impossible’ to finish 100 projects in 6 years
To clarify issues hounding the key infrastructure projects being pushed by the current administration, Dizon clarified that there was no promise to finish the completion of all the 100 key infrastructure projects under Duterte’s watch.
Dizon said it was “impossible” to finish all the infrastructure projects within six years.
“We wanted to rationalize because you know, infrastructure projects are not easy to do. They require a lot of planning. They require long and very tedious feasibility studies, detailed planning. And it takes time,” he said.
“’Build, Build, build’ never promised that we would complete all these infrastructure projects in five or six years — that’s impossible. Imposible iyon (That’s impossible). Nobody promised that. But what we promised is number one, we will start,” Dizon added. (PNA)