MANILA – With the Duterte administration entering its final year, the “Build, Build, Build” program continues to deliver its promise of creating infrastructure that improves the lives of Filipinos in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and other challenges, Cabinet secretaries said in a media briefing Friday.

Presidential Adviser for Flagship Programs and Projects Vince Dizon, who is also president and Chief Executive Officer of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), assured that while “Build, Build, Build” continued to make progress, it is also setting up the foundation in terms of infrastructure for the next administration and beyond.

“We only have less than one year left in the Duterte administration. Whoever the next president will be, it is incumbent upon the next administration to not only continue, but to fast-track all the good work that has been done under the leadership of President Duterte,” Dizon said.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr), both of which implement the majority of the infrastructure pipeline, joined Dizon in presenting the status of their projects in a press conference at the ongoing Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge Project in Makati City. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua joined the event via video conferencing.

“A total of 6.5 million workers made ‘Build, Build, Build’ a reality. We are confident that President Duterte’s promise of decongesting EDSA by 2022 will become a reality. In one month, we will open the Pantaleon-Estrella Bridge which will connect Makati and Mandaluyong within 12 minutes. Before the term of the President ends, we will complete the construction of several big-ticket projects, including the Kalayaan Bridge linking Taguig and Pasig, Binondo-Intramuros Bridge, Mindanao Avenue Extension, Katipunan Avenue Extension, and the NLEX-SLEX Connector project which will connect Skyway Stage 3 and NLEX Harbor Link,” said Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, chair of the Cabinet’s infrastructure cluster.

Transportation Secretary Art Tugade, meanwhile, said, “Since 2016, the Department of Transportation has completed a total of 212 airport projects and working on 102 more. This 2021, we are set to inaugurate various completed airport projects in Clark, Catarman, Butuan, Busuanga, Zamboanga, Siquijor, General Santos, and Bicol. Across the archipelago, we have also completed a total of 446 seaport projects, while 117 more are ongoing. New railways are also being built and existing rail lines are getting much-needed upgrades. In fact, this month, we will finally inaugurate the LRT-2 East Extension, and before the year ends, the massive rehabilitation of the MRT-3 and the Common Station will be completed. To date, we have a total of 1,090 kilometers of railway length with ongoing project implementation. To decongest EDSA, we have established the EDSA Busway, and built Bike Lanes to promote active transport.”

“Are we finished? Hindi ‘ho. Dahil hindi tayo titigil sa pagtatayo at pagsasa-ayos ng mga airport, ng mga pantalan at mga infrastructure projects na magbibigay ng kaginhawahan sa mga Pilipino (Not yet. Because we will not stop building at rehabilitating airports, seaports, and infrastructure projects that will benefit Filipinos),” Tugade said.

When asked why the government is investing more money for infrastructure amid the pandemic, Chua said, “We are investing in a wide range of infrastructure projects. They are not only roads or airports but also health facilities, also digital infrastructure–one of them is the National ID. All of these are needed during this pandemic and our move to the new normal.”

The “Build, Build, Build” program is the Duterte administration’s ambitious infrastructure development plan that is composed of thousands of projects to be implemented all over the country.

In the briefing, the Cabinet secretaries reported that 212 airport projects, 446 seaport projects, 10,376 flood mitigation structures, 26,494 kilometers of road, and 5,555 bridges have already been completed under the “Build, Build, Build” Program.

A total of 102 airport projects, 117 seaport projects, 1,090.30 kilometers of railway, 2,587 flood mitigation structures, 2,515 kilometers of road, and 1,020 bridges are currently under construction.

The Cabinet’s infrastructure cluster also provided an overview of the revised list of infrastructure flagship projects (IFPs) under the Duterte administration during the event.

From the previous iterations of the IFP list, seven flagship projects have been completed. On 12 May 2021, the NEDA Board approved a revised list of 112 IFPs, of which four projects have been completed, 29 projects are seen to be completed by 2021 and 2022, while 79 projects are expected to be completed by 2023 onwards.

The Duterte administration is leaving the next administration with a robust pipeline of infrastructure projects, ensuring that the Filipino people will benefit from a legacy of continuity.

In 2020, infrastructure disbursements amounted to PHP869.5 billion, equivalent to 4.8 percent of GDP, despite construction delays due to Covid-19.
While lower than the previous year’s PHP1 trillion infrastructure disbursements, this is a far improvement from the PHP100 billion average spending (based on obligations) per year from 2001 to 2010 (1.6 percent of GDP).

“The Duterte administration delivered and nobody can dispute that, because all the numbers we’re presenting are real,” Dizon said. (PR)