Recto wants big-ticket infra projects exempted from poll ban
MANILA, Philippines—Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Thursday backed Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno’s call for the exemption of big-ticket infrastructure projects from the election ban to catch up on the government’s “Build, Build, Build” initiative timetable.
Recto noted that most infrastructure projects are already behind schedule and it will be further aggravated “by suspending work simply on account that it is the season for candidates to shake hands and kiss babies.”
“How can a beneficial enterprise that is the construction of schools and hospitals be placed in the same category as the carrying of firearms and other prohibited activities?” Recto said in a statement.
The election ban on public works construction will stretch from March 29 to May 12.
In supporting Diokno’s call, Recto cited a provision in the Senate version of the 2019 national budget which states that: “Notwithstanding the provisions of any law to the contrary, infrastructure projects funded under this Act shall be exempt from the prohibitions against release, disbursement or expenditure of public funds and against construction of public works and delivery of materials for public works.”
The government is currently operating under a reenacted budget as this year’s appropriations stalled in Congress amid allegations of “pork” insertions.
“With the delay in the enactment of 2019 national budget, the above exemption provision is needed for government to catch up with its ‘Build, Build, Build’ timetable,” Recto said.
The senator then stressed that “both people and progress” will lose if the construction of facilities will stop during the campaign period.
Recto also pointed out that the campaign period will coincide with the summer season “which is the best time, weather-wise, for construction.”
“We should take advantage of this so-called good weather window before the typhoon season kicks in,” he said.
“That this forced work interruption happens every 36 months speaks of how elections delay the delivery of vital projects. We should be working on projects round the clock,” he added. /jpv
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