Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday described as dismal failure the administration’s Build, Build, Build program after learning that only nine of the 75 flagship programs have started construction.
“Only nine out of the 75 flagship programs have commenced in terms of actual construction? We barely have less than three years to go,” Drilon said during the Senate plenary deliberation on the proposed P4.1 trillion national budget for 2020.
“It is in actual construction where there is actual disbursement that would propel our economy. That’s why I’m interested because we started three years ago with 75 projects under our Build, Build, Build program. After over three years, only nine have actually commenced,” he added.
In response, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, chairman of the Senate finance committee and defending the budget bill, said that according to the economic managers, 12 projects would be completed by 2020, an additional 17 projects by 2021, additional 26 by 2022, and 43 will be completed beyond 2022.
Drilon then asked what projects will start next year and in 2021. Angara could not answer him directly.
“I’m asking for specifics but they are giving me numbers,” said Angara, referring to the economic managers.
He said he was told that the list will be given to him on Wednesday because it is still being finalized.
Drilon said he only wanted to know which of the 75 projects have been abandoned, which new projects have been included and stages of development of the projects that remain on the list.
In an interview during the break, Drilon expressed belief that no substantial progress will be achieved as the execution of the program is dismal.
“It is sad to say that the BBB program of the administration is a dismal failure. Out of the 75 flagship projects that were proposed at the start of the administration, exactly nine started construction. That is only 2% of the total,” he told reporters.
“We only have two years and a half left in this administration, I don’t think any substantial progress insofar as that program is concerned will be achieve. I repeat, the execution is simply dismal,” he added.
He said underspending, bureaucracy not being able to respond, and ill-advised projects are the problems that must be threshed out.
He added that the Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Works and Highways are the worst performers in terms of the ability to disburse.
“I do not know if there is still time. Suddenly, after putting across 75 flagship projects at the start of the administration, suddenly they’ll review and remove some. If simply on information, which they could not provide us, you can imagine the capacity to actually implement the project,” he said.
“It’s baseless,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said at a news conference.
Panelo said the projects such as the MRT3 rehabilitation, Metro Manila subway, Subic-Clark railway, and Mindanao railway are at various stages of development.
The Department of Public Works and Highways reported 9,845 kilometers of road, 2,709 bridges, 4,536 flood control projects, 82 evacuation centers and 71,803 classrooms have so far been completed.
“We have so many projects,” the Palace official noted. — RSJ, GMA News