Philippine economy
The Philippine government earlier said it would revamp the list of infrastructure projects under Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” program after some items were found to be “challenging and costly.”
The STAR/Michael Varcas
'Zero' infrastructure projects during Aquino administration? Not quite
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - November 14, 2019 - 5:01pm

MANILA, Philippines — Salvador Panelo, the president's spokesperson, claimed in defense of the "Build, Build, Bulid" infrastructure program, that the Aquino administration had "built not a single infrastructure [project]."

This was in response to Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon's comment that the program was a "dismal failure" because only nine of 75 flagship projects have been completed three years into the six-year term of the Duterte administration.

An October 31, 2019 list posted by the Public-Private Partnership Center includes three PPP projects—the Aquino administration's preferred mode for projects—that were completed before the end of Benigno Aquino III's presidency.

Those are the Daang Hari-SLEX Link Road (Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway), the construction of 9,296 classrooms, and the implementation of an Automatic Fare Collection System for Metro Manila's train lines.

A separate list on the Official Gazette also tallies projects that were approved during the Aquino administration that were meant to alleviate traffic congestion and that were expected to be completed by the succeeding Duterte administration.

Below is a list of the included projects slated for construction in NCR alone, along with their target completion dates. 

  1. NAIA Expressway, Phase II (listed 75% complete as of April 2016; Phase One opened September 2016)

  2. NLEX Harbor Link (listed 24.42% complete as of March 2016; Segment 10 completed February 2019)

  3. Pasig Marikina River Channel (56.84% complete as of March 2016)

  4. Southwest Intermodal Terminal (November 2017 target completion date; inaugurated in November 2018 as Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange)

  5. C5 South Link Expressway (Phase 2 target completion in December 2018; first segment opened July 2019)

  6. LRT Line 2 East Extension Project (Targeted for first quarter of 2018)

  7. NLEX Harbor Link Segment 8.2 (Targeted for September 2017)

  8. Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 7 (Targeted for 2019)

The full list on the Official Gazette, which spans from 2016 to 2020, includes projects in Albay, Bataan, Batangas, Benguet, Bohol, Bulacan, Cagayan, Camarines Sur, Cebu, Davao Oriental, Misamis Oriental, Samar, Tarlac and totals 49 projects overall.

It also includes high-impact airport projects such as the ones in Naga City, Panglao, Mactan and Bicol and acquisitions under the AFP’s Modernization and Capability Upgrade Program.

Certain Aquino-era projects, such as the MRT-7 line, the Bicol International Airport, and NLEX Harbor Link Segments were also repurposed by the Duterte administration and are now listed among the high-impact priority projects under the "Build, Build, Build" program.

Panelo backtracks 

On CNN Philippines’ “The Source,” Panelo said he was only trying to match what he said was Drilon’s “exaggeration” of the issue. According to the presidential mouthpiece, he wasn’t insinuating that no accomplishments were made, but only ones that were ‘minor’ in comparison to the ones the current administration were rolling out. 

"It pales in comparison sa mga major projects ng gobyerno," he added. "Kung 'yung maliliit ng bagay, hindi nga zero. Pero kung ikukumpara mo kasi, malayong-malayo."

(If you include the small things, then it isn't 'zero'. But of you compare it, there is a vast difference between the two administrations)

RELATED: Build Build Build takes off in 2018

Build, Build, Build? 

Bases Conversion and Development Authority CEO Vince Dizon defended "Build, Build, Build" on Wednesday, saying that 35 of the 100 projects in the program are already being built.

He pointed out that the NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10, Governor Miranda Bridge, Laguna Lake Highway, Pigalo Bridge, TPLEx-Pozorrubio, and Bohol-Panglao International Airport have already been built.

Construction in the TPLEx began in 2010, and, according to the list on the Official Gazette, would "reduce travel time between Tarlac City and Rosales, Pangasinan" and "upon full completion, will also reduce average travel time between Tarlac City and Rosario, La Union." It was scheduled for completion by December 2016.

Plans for the Bohol-Panglao International Airport were given the green light as early as 2003. Its construction under the Japan International Cooperation Agency was signed in 2013 under Aquino’s administration and was expected to finish in 2016. It was later completed and inaugurated by Duterte in 2018. 

Dizon stressed that the government did not promise that all the projects would be finished by the end of President Rodrigo Duterte's term in 2022.

"Continuity is what is most important for President Duterte. This is why all of the 100 flagship projects will be started under his term, with a significant number completed while some will be partially operational by 2022," Dizon said in a statement

"The rest will have significant progress moving into the next administration." He also made sure to point out that the government "never promised [it would] finish all these projects in 5 to 6 years."

RELATED: DPWH halfway done with Build, Build, Build

Politics vs. institutional memory 

Roderick Planta, National Economic and Developmet Authority assistant secretary for Infrastructure Development, at a forum Wednesday said that the country’s population density was outpacing Metro Manila’s limited infrastructure and government's capacity to provide services, which is why delivering solutions has been delayed. 

"If you want to move it faster, you'd have to [take on] additional costs," he added. "So kumbaga, it will get worse before it gets better, yun talaga. This is where we are, and the solutions are just coming along."

Planta also said maintaining continuity in the projects has been a challenge, pointing out that "top-level officials come and go, but the technocrats provide continuity."

Urban planning specialist Felino "Jun" Palafox Jr. said on ANC's "Early Edition” in October that politics are to blame for inaction toward the traffic situation. He pointed out that work on a number of infrastructure projects only officially began under the Duterte administration despite all having been proposed decades ago. 

For Palafox, "too much politics [and] lack of continuity and institution memory," were to blame for the severe delays in infrastructural development. "For the past few years, it was 'do nothing or do little,' [and] that's why we have catastrophic traffic right now," he said. 

"Sometimes some administrations when they come in new, they ignore previous planning initiatives and so on. It's short-term and opportunistic, it's not long-term and visionary." 

BUILD BUILD BUILD FACT CHECK INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESMAN ATTY. SALVADOR PANELO
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