Arsenio M. Balisacan — Courtesy of Philippine Competition Commission

INCOMING SOCIOECONOMIC Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said on Wednesday that he will seek a review of “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure spending and seek to strike a balance between erecting public works and alleviating poverty.

“We need to balance the infrastructure side on the one hand and social protection, health, and education,” Mr. Balisacan said in an ANC interview on Wednesday. “What do you do with world-class infrastructure when your people (and) their children are ranked poor, the poorest in the region?”  

“That is the dilemma. If you want to push for world-class infrastructure, but health is in crisis, education is in crisis, we need to go back and reflect on what is really fundamental.”

“Development should be shared by all, especially the poor. I would like to see that. The growth that we put in place (will be) highly inclusive.”

He also wants more attention to be paid to social protection, adding that the expansion of the conditional cash transfer program is a possible avenue for doing so.

Mr. Balisacan said however that putting a stop to the ongoing Build, Build, Build projects is not on the table, calling the cancellation of such pending works a “bad practice.”

“We are not going to stop anything that is ongoing and it is clear that we have to continue what’s there,” he said. “If it’s obviously wrong, you have to do something about that.”

In April, Public Works officials said that 12 out of 119 flagship infrastructure projects have been completed.

Of this number, seven were completed in 2020, and five in 2021. Another seven are expected to be completed by June 30, before President Rodrigo R. Duterte steps down. And another 12 are due to be finished by the end of the year.

Mr. Balisacan will be meeting with current National Economic and  Development Authority  leadership before the inauguration of President-elect Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. — Tobias Jared Tomas