Palace: ‘Build, Build, Build’ criticism ‘baseless’

Works Secretary Mark Villar, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and Japanese Ambassador Koji Haneda lead the groundbreaking ceremony in February for the Japanese-funded subway project inMetro Manila. Before them is a scale model of a tunnel boring machine.
| photo by Grig Montegrande

Malacañang on Tuesday, November 12, dismissed Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon’s comment about the government’s P9.2-trillion Build, Build, Build project being a “dismal failure,” saying it was “baseless.”

“Senator Frank, look at the administration you previously belonged, 6 years not a single infrastructure na nagawa (was done),” Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

He also cited DPWH data, saying the administration has completed 9,845 kilometers of roadways, 2,700 bridges, 4,536 flood control projects, 82 evacuation centers and 71,803 classrooms.

Earlier that day, Drilon said that only 2 percent of the program has been implemented after 3 years, noting that only 9 out of 75 Build, Build, Build flagship projects have started construction.

“Sad to say the Build, Build, Build project of the government has been a dismal failure,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” project was all about building road networks and modernizing the country’s main gateways, in the hopes of spurring economic growth in the country by providing jobs and boosting spending, especially in the construction sector.

Senate Finance Committee chair Sen. Sonny Angara came to the infrastructure program’s defense, saying that the government is expecting to complete 12 projects by next year, 17 more in 2021, and 26 others in 2022.

However, Drilon said “any substantial progress could not be achieved” within two years.

“The problem of underspending, bureaucracy not being able to respond and problem of ill-advised projects must be threshed out. Unfortunately, when we asked that question on the floor, they could not even answer. If they could not provide us with simple information, you can imagine their capacity to implement the project,” he added.

Drilon also pointed out that the Commission on Audit earlier cited the Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) — both of which are at the helm of Build, Build, Build’s implementation — as the worst performers when it comes to the capacity to disburse.

“It is indicating that the choosing of the projects were haphazardly done,” he said.

“The disbursement will be the one that will create jobs, create roads, not a feasibility study,” he added.

Angara, meanwhile, said the Build, Build, Build program pushed the country’s infrastructure spending to “more than 5 percent as recommended by the World Bank.”

“I would not say ‘a dismal failure’ kasi malalaking proyekto ‘yan at matagal na tayo hindi nakakagawa ng malalaking proyekto (because these are big-ticket projects and it’s been a while since we embarked on major projects),” he said. 

“Mahirap talaga mag-implement ng proyekto (It’s really hard to implement projects) and that is not unique to this administration,” he added. 

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