THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said the infrastructure projects completed on the eve of the government handover are 12 major works and seven more due for completion by June 30, leaving a pipeline of 100 projects for the next administration.

“Coming up with a huge package of infrastructure projects is not an ordinary task. If you compare that with previous administrations, it entails huge effort, both technical and financial operations,” DPWH Undersecretary Emil K. Sadain said on the sidelines of the 5th Interagency Infrastructure Flagship Projects Forum.

The P8-trillion Build, Build, Build (BBB) program identified 119 infrastructure flagship projects, with seven completed in 2020, including the P18-billion New Clark City Phase 1 and the P14.97-billion Clark International Airport Expansion Project, and five in 2021, including the P21.97-billion MRT-3 Rehabilitation Project.

“You cannot simply say that one project or a big project can be done or completed overnight. It has to consume much time, from the preparations of the design, procurement, the construction,” Mr. Sadain said.

National Economic and Development Authority Undersecretary Roderick M. Planta said at the briefing: “The headline metric is the public expenditure as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), and we’re consistently hitting at the minimum 5% of GDP, and this is at least twice what was spent or as compared to previous decades of infrastructure development.”

Asian Development Bank Country Director Kelly Bird said: “To sum it up, it’s been hugely successful to be able to get public spending above 5% more or less consistently… The railway projects, the extension on road networks and bridges, and these are lifting up long term economic growth and creating jobs and are also important for economic recovery.”

Japan International Cooperation Agency Philippines chief representative Sakamoto Takema said: “I’m very positive for the Philippine BBB Policy, and we are very happy to support that.”

The DPWH is expecting the completion of seven more flagship projects by the end of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s term on June 30. These projects include the P9.76-billion LRT 2 East Extension and the P7.51-billion Flood Risk Management Project in Cagayan, Tagoloan, and Imus Rivers. 

The department is projecting the completion of 12 more major projects by December, including the P45.29-billion Southeast Metro Manila Expressway Project and the P75-billion MRT-7.

Mr. Sadain cited six major challenges the next government needs to address — contract management, planning and technical operation, acquisition of road right-of-way, fiscal management, utilization and expiration of loans, and strengthening of organizational structure.

The department said 35 big projects for which construction is ongoing are expected to be completed by 2023 onward. These include the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road, Boracay Circumferential Road, and Davao City Bypass Construction projects.

“The next administration should sustain the momentum,” Mr. Sadain said.

“The golden age of infrastructure does not stop with this administration. It goes beyond the succeeding administrations if we want to ensure there will be a closure in the infrastructure gap comparatively with neighboring countries,” he added. — Arjay L. Balinbin