In spite of some prioritization issues being faced by a number of administration flagship programs, Senator Sonny Angara said he does not agree with the observation that the government’s “Build Build Build” (BBB) program has been a failure.

Angara said the current administration has managed to step up its spending on infrastructure, which he said is a positive development.

“It is definitely not a failure. Sa dami ng projects, sa dami ng napupunta sa infrastructure; kung ikukumpara natin ang yearly na gastos sa infrastructure, nadadagdagan yun. So sa akin hindi yan dismal failure,” the veteran legislator said.

The criticisms over the BBB came up recently after it was noted that out of the 75 flagship projects listed on the website of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), only nine have been implemented.

Both Public Works Secretary Mark Villar and Presidential Adviser on Flagship Projects and Programs Vince Dizon have clarified that the list is not updated and is just forms a small part in a bigger list of projects under the BBB.

The administration has since amended its list of flagship projects, which now contains a total of 100 items.

Dizon explained that the list was updated to remove those that would no longer be feasible during the last years of the administration and to include only the ones that will actually be started between now and the early part of 2022.

A report submitted by Dizon indicated that 35 are already ongoing, 32 will commence construction in six to eight months, 21 are already in the advance stages of approval, and 12 are in the advance stages of feasibility studies.

Angara, who chairs the Committee on Finance that is currently going over the proposed P4.1 trillion national budget for 2020, aired his optimism that the “reconfiguration” of the list of flagship projects would mean all of the projects will either commence or be completed before the end of the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Work on these will start already and will be continued by the next administration.” 

“I see this as a positive development because only those projects that will actually be started under the current administration were included in the list. Many of these projects will not be completed in 2022, but what is important is that work on these will start already and will be continued by the next administration,” the seasoned lawmaker said.

“Ang importante hindi nasasayang ang pera. Nagagamit ito para sa kapakanan ng kababayan natin,” the senator added.

He said there could be a variety of reasons for the delays and that pinpointing these would require a closer scrutiny of the processes involved.

From the initial proposal submitted either by the agency, a foreign-funding source or a local proponent, Angara said these would have to go through a feasibility study and evaluation by the different bodies within the NEDA.

“Kadalasan ang problema yung right of way. Minsan naman may mga proseso ang mga ahensya na dapat pabilisin at yun ang mga dapat suriin ng Kongreso; kung paano pabibilisin ang proseso,” Angara said.

“It is the responsibility of each agency of government to ensure there are no delays in their respective projects.”

Primarily, he said it is the responsibility of each agency of government to ensure there

are no delays in their respective projects.

When the plenary deliberations on the 2020 national budget resume, Angara said the NEDA and Bases Conversion Development Authority, which is headed by Dizon, will be called back to answer questions regarding the status of these projects.

He said he expects the interpellations on the budget to be completed soon so that by November 25, the Senate could already go into the period of amendments and then approve the measure on second and third reading.

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