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Manny Bonoan is Marcos' DPWH chief; Alfredo Pascual to lead DTI

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Manny Bonoan is Marcos' DPWH chief; Alfredo Pascual to lead DTI
Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, presumptive president-elect, speaks to reporters at the campaign headquarters in Mandaluyong City on May 11, 2022.
AFP / Ron Lopez

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 1:09 p.m.) — A day after his proclamation, president-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. named two more members of his crucial economic team.

In a streamed press conference with select media, Marcos said SMC Tollways CEO Manny Bonoan will lead the Department of Public Works and Highways.

He will succeed Secretary Roger Mercado, who took over the post after incoming Sen. Mark Villar announced his bid to become a senator in October 2021.

Philippine history has shown that a newly elected president has always delayed — if not outright abandoned — pet projects pursued by predecessors. So far, Marcos is keen on continue the flagship "Build, Build, Build" program of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte.

Data shows 60 of the 88 Build, Build, Build projects that will be passed on to the next administration consist of hard infrastructure projects like roads, bridges, airports, seaports, dams and railways.

The rest are flood control projects while some are not even defined as public works such as the national ID system. There are also projects that were only continued from previous administrations like the Aquino-era LRT-1 Cavite extension.

A total of 35 out of 88 projects are under construction already and are set for completion by 2023. There are also 20 projects that are yet to be reviewed.

READ: Next president to inherit 88 infra projects on 'advanced stage'

New DTI chief

Meanwhile, Marcos tapped Alfredo Pascual, a former University of the Philippines president and head of prominent business group Management Association Philippines, as the head of the Department of Trade and Industry under his administration.

Pascual will take over the seat of DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, who pushed for the Philippines’ membership in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement.

At the same press briefing on Thursday, Marcos said he would review the country’s inclusion in RCEP which, he said, may hurt the local farm sector with more foreign competition. The Senate has not yet ratified the Philippines’ membership in the world’s largest trade bloc.

READ: DTI, foreign biz groups renew call for RCEP OK

“What will be the effect on our farming community? Our farmers especially, they need protection,” he said.

That said, reviewing RCEP would be among the tasks of the new DTI chief. Prior to working at UP, Pascual worked at Asian Development Bank for 19 years under various positions, including director of Private Sector Operations, Director of Infrastructure Finance, and Advisor for Public-Private Partnership.

According to this profile from UP, he was also among the pioneers of investment banking in the Philippines, holding executive positions in Bancom Development Corporation, Philippine Pacific Capitol (now RCBC Capital), and First Metro Investment Corporation.

In the same press conference, Marcos named Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Ben Diokno as his finance secretary, while Monetary Board member Felipe Medalla will finish Diokno’s unexpired term at the central bank. — Kristine Joy Patag

BONGBONG MARCOS

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