50 projects done by 2022–Palace
Malacañang on Saturday disputed the claim of Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon that the administration’s “Build, build, build” (BBB) program was a “dismal failure” because only nine out of 75 flagship projects had commenced.
But Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the BBB program consists of thousands of projects not necessarily on the flagship list and some of them were already under way.
There are actually 35 projects that are already “rolling” while 32 more are set to begin in six to eight months, Panelo said.
Another 21 projects are in the advanced stages of government approval while 12 others are in the advanced stages of feasibility studies, he added.
Panelo said 38 projects are set to be completed by 2022, and another 22 would be partially or substantially completed by the same year.
The projects came from a list of thousands but it was later revised after 28 projects were deemed to be no longer feasible while new ones were added, bringing the list to a total of 100 projects.
The new flagship projects included ones that are already ongoing.
No special powers needed
At the same time, Panelo backtracked on his earlier remark lauding the proposal of Albay Rep. Joey Salceda to grant special powers to President Duterte to hasten BBB projects.
But the President himself said he did not need special powers for the BBB program or even Metro Manila traffic and would make do with the powers he had to finish as many projects as he could before the end of his term in 2022.
Panelo said Salceda’s proposal was no longer a priority and came too late since the Duterte administration only has less than three years in office.
“While we respect the wisdom of Congress and laud the gentleman from Albay in seeing the importance of this flagship infrastructure program of the current government, we consider this proposed measure belated and no longer a priority legislative agenda of the President, given that we only have less than three years left in office,” he said in a statement.
He said Mr. Duterte would use the laws and powers available to him to resolve right-of-way issues and other problems that pose stumbling blocks.
Solutions in the works
“One of the inherent powers of the State is the power of eminent domain where pertinent government offices, through the Office of the Solicitor General, may expropriate or initiate proceedings therefor to acquire private property for public use,” Panelo said.
“This power is particularly essential in securing rights of way, an issue that hampered the construction of vital infrastructure,” he said, adding that government agencies were already resorting to this process.
Drilon raised the questions during a Senate hearing on the public works budget at the Senate on Thursday.
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