Election public works ban should not affect jobs, project completion — Villanueva
MANILA, Philippines — The 45-day public works ban starting March 25 during the election season should be implemented in a way that “will not affect jobs nor delay the completion of infrastructure projects in calamity areas,” Senator Joel Villanueva said Sunday.
“Employment should not be a casualty of election. And pandemic recovery should not take a back seat to polls,” Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee, said in a statement.
“We have 10.1 million unemployed and underemployed. Let us not worsen this already bleak jobs picture,” he added.
The public works ban for the May elections will run until May 8, in order to prevent politicians from using public resources for their campaigns.
Villanueva, who is seeking reelection in the upcoming polls, noted that the number of construction workers decreased to four million after pandemic lockdowns hindered work on public and private projects.
He said government expenditures account for about 16 percent of the gross domestic product, “so any slowdown in public construction will drag down growth.”
He also said that halting construction of schools and hospitals during summer when it is best to build will affect their completion.
“We should also take advantage of the ‘good weather window’ to fix farm infrastructure like roads and irrigation,” he added.
Funding for P1.183 trillion worth of government infrastructure has been authorized in the 2022 national budget.
According to Villanueva, the country may face a setback if it will pause constructions, noting that the government is still catching up as funds for infrastructure in the last two years were transferred for health initiatives and financial aid.
However, the lawmaker also pointed out that election laws and the Comelec resolution grant a leeway in providing exemptions to the public works ban. He said this will be the assurance that only few will be affected by the suspension of work.
Among the exempted projects are those ongoing or awarded before March 25, as well as “emergency work necessitated by the occurrence of a public calamity.”
“Kaya dapat ayon sa batas ang pagpapatupad ng public works protocol during the 45-day campaign period. Igalang ang exemptions,” said Villanueva.
(That’s why the implementation of the public works ban should be in line with the law during the 45-day campaign period. Exemptions should be respected.)
“Mahirap naman kung bababa tayo sa Alert Level 1, fully opened up ang ekonomiya, tapos may moratorium sa public construction,” he added.
(It will be hard if we are under Alert Level 1 and the economy is open, but there is moratorium on public construction.)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.