‘Strategic, impactful’ infrastructure among priorities for Robredo if elected
MANILA, Philippines — If elected, presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo said “impactful” infrastructure projects will be among the priorities of her administration.
“Infrasctructure will most definitely remain a priority but we must ensure that we are building it in a strategic, impactful manner and not just building for the sake of saying ‘we’re building’,” Robredo said during Friday’s presidential economic forum hosted by the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) with its partners.
According to Robredo, her infrastructure agenda will focus on three priority areas.
“The first one is water resources management. The second one is public transport and rural development. And the third one is reconstruction of public infrastructure and housing projects in calamity-stricken areas,” she said.
Explaining the first priority area, Robredo noted how the country has faced water supply problems even before the pandemic.
“And while being prudent in consumption will help, the long-term [solution] really entails investing in critical infrastructure and ensuring that it is well-maintained,” she said.
She said she aims to “provide clean water for all.” To do this, she stressed the need to harness available water resources and implement projects for water impounding in the country’s major rivers.
“There’s already a study of how this should be done, anchored on alin sa mga rivers sa bansa natin yung pwedeng gamitin [which rivers can be used],” she said.
Public transport, rural development
For the second priority area, she stressed that the country’s “inefficient” mass transportation system is a “key stumbling block” to economic growth.
“Alam naman natin ang public transport matagal na natin itong problema [We know that public transport is a long-standing problem in our country]. People are stuck in traffic for hours and private cars still dominate the roads and our mass transport system remains inefficient and para sa ‘kin [for me], this is really one key stumbling block to growth,” she said.
“People are wasting so much time inside their vehicles or waiting for rides, wasting valuable time that can otherwise be used more productively. So we must build with a mindset of moving people, rather than just cars,” she added.
“And that is why public transport must be top of mind in any infrastructure agenda,” she further said.
Furthermore, Robredo said major population centers in the Philippines, such as Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao should be decongested. She also highlighted the need to invest in digital infrastructure, especially in the countryside.
Housing in climate-hit areas
Her administration would also focus on the reconstruction of public infrastructure and housing projects in calamity-stricken areas, Robredo said.
She cited recent calamities, which she said showed the “cycle we are stuck in.”
“A cycle of devastation and reconstruction that has stunted our economic momentum for so long,” she said.
“Umikot ako nang umikot [I visited many affected areas] after Typhoon Odette and really, the devastation is huge pero maraming mga areas na sila run yung tinatamaan [but there are areas which are hit by calamities] each and every time,” she said.
Robredo vowed to create resettlement sites for fully damaged houses in “dangerous and climate vulnerable areas.”
“We will provide climate resilient public housing for affected families as permanent resettlements,” she also said.
“’Pag hindi natin pinagisipan ng maayos [If we don’t think of this properly], it has been draining our coffers year end and year out,” she added.
Robredo was also asked about her take on public-private partnerships (PPP) in infrastructure projects.
“PPP will really play a very big role in my administration,” she said.
She said there is a need to push for more partnerships between the government and the private sector given the outcomes of such collaboration.
“We have seen the amount of good that collaboration with the private sector can produce ‘pag ginagawa ito ng tama [if we do it right]. At the [Office of the Vice President], we were able to do so many things despite the limited mandate and resources because of collaboration with the private sector,” Robredo pointed out.
“This will help conserve government resources saka ‘yung [and our] borrowing capacity natin for critical public projects. We will encourage private sector participation in critical PPP projects such as roads, expressways, airports, seaports, water concession projects,” she added.
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