PRESIDENTIAL Adviser for Flagship Projects Vivencio B. Dizon said 35 such projects are under construction and 38 will be completed by the end of the government’s term, while rejecting an opposition Senator’s characterization of the infrastructure program as a “dismal failure.”
He added, however, that the government is not yet satisfied with progress on infrastructure, known as “Build, Build, Build.”
In a briefing at the Palace Wednesday, Mr. Dizon said government spending on infrastructure has undeniably increased.
“I just want to emphasize the point: Is Build, Build, Build a failure? Absolutely not, and the numbers speak for themselves. Construction is up; public spending on infrastructure is up, and this has led to faster economic growth. Are we happy with the progress? We could do better, and we admit that,” he said.
Mr. Dizon confirmed that not all the projects will be finished before President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s term ends in 2022 but added that he hopes the project pipeline will “create momentum” going forward even with works in progress left to future governments.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon called Build, Build, Build a “dismal failure” and claimed that only nine out of the total 75 flagship projects listed as of July have started construction.
Mr. Dizon, who is also the Bases and Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) President, clarified that Build, Build, Build consists of thousands of infrastructure projects, including some already finished. The list of 75 flagship projects has since been revised to 100 after more private sector-initiated projects were included last week.
He said a number of projects in the old list of 75 have been completed, including the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Harbor Link segment 10; the Governor Miranda Bridge in Tagum City; the Pigalo Bridge in Isabela; The Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx) extension to Pozzurubio, Pangasinan; the Bohol Panglao International Airport; the Port of Cagayan De Oro passenger terminal; the Cavite Gateway container terminal; the Communications Navigation System/Air Traffic Management System; and New Clark City Phase 1A. These are not included in the list of 100 flagship projects.
About 70% of the projects are related to transport and mobility, with 38 set to be finished by 2022.
In addition to the 35 currently under construction, 32 will commence construction within the next six to eight months, while 21 are in the advanced stages of government approval and 12 are in the feasibility study stage.
Mr. Dizon added that the private sector will play a crucial role in the government’s infrastructure program, as approved public-partnership-projects (PPP) have exceeded those of any other administration. Of the revised list of 100, “Around 26 or 28” are PPPs.
“I think the private sector wants to help because it obviously means the economy will grow faster because it will benefit them… but we have to ensure that the PPPs are advantageous especially for the future,” he said.
The government is also trying to improve its processing of PPPs, which have traditionally been slow-moving. Mr. Dizon said that much has been done to improve the process. Other challenges include speeding up right-of-way acquisition.
“It’s still slow. We acknowledge that — it is still slow. We need to do it faster. We need to get these things done faster… obviously the biggest challenge for infrastructure is right-of-way,” he said.
The list of 100 flagship projects is still ”evolving,” Mr. Dizon said, as some new projects could be added or current ones could be removed. He added: “Nothing is final until there is a shovel in the ground.” — Gillian M. Cortez