Infrastructure is vital to a nation’s development as it directly affects economic growth. One of the main reasons behind the need for excellent roads is to enable faster transportation of people and goods to other cities, regions, and countries. Without the existence of functional physical infrastructure to serve this purpose, there will be delays that will eventually result to great losses.
As early as 2014, the New York Times reported a loss of 876 billion pesos a year in lost productivity and wasted energy according to a study conducted by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). In a later study by JICA in 2018, the traffic congestion being experienced in Metro Manila costs the nation about 3.5 billion losses per day.
This information just proves the importance of infrastructure and how it will prompt—and even lead—the nation’s economic growth by enhancing connectivity, productivity, and efficiency.
The Philippines is heavily investing in infrastructure through the Build, Build, Build program | Photo by Denniz Futalan from Pexels
What is the Build, Build, Build Program?
To address the so-called “achilles heel” of the nation’s economic development, the administration of President Duterte announced its centerpiece program following his victory in 2016 which is the Build, Build, Build (BBB) program.
President Duterte aims for this massive program to finally usher the “Golden Age of Infrastructure” of the Philippines by allotting a whopping budget of around 9 trillion pesos for the construction of major infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, airports, and other transportation systems that will go beyond the end of his term in 2022.
DPWH Secretary Mark Villar, one of the leaders of the BBB program, with President Duterte | Photo Courtesy from Mark Villar’s Facebook page
Projects under the BBB Program
The BBB program, spearheaded by Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar and Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arturo Tugade, originally listed the following projects:
75 infrastructure projects
Five flood control projects
Four energy facilities
Three social infrastructures
Some of these are flagship projects that have a combined cost of P2.2 trillion. These are considered high-impact and intended to facilitate the efficient transport of goods and people, encourage rural development, and create millions of jobs by 2022.
Even with these massive numbers, the government announced a modification from this list a few months before the lockdown started—making the original 75 to become about a hundred projects to combine the ones already in the works and those that were started by the previous administrations.
What are the latest updates on Build, Build, Build projects?
DPWH Secretary Mark Villar recently said this statement in an interview when asked about the BBB program: “We are proud of President Duterte’s BBB program. Over the past five years, the program generated six million jobs. The government built more than 29,000 kilometers of road, over 5,000 bridges, and 150,000 school buildings. We’re able to accomplish a lot despite pandemic.”
The development of Cavite Laguna Expressway is one of the completed projects of the BBB program | Photo Courtesy from Mark Villar’s Facebook page
Shelved Projects under BBB
It seems that BBB remains the pride and legacy of President Duterte’s administration despite the shelving of some flagship projects originally listed in the program. As of November 2019, only 32 of the original 75 projects remained but added with 68 new projects which bulked the list to about a hundred, as previously stated above.
Some of the bridges that will take longer to build have been replaced by local roads, and massive projects that were scheduled to be completed beyond President Duterte’s administration such as the Luzon-Samar and Bohol-Leyte Link Bridges and the Cebu-Bohol and Cebu-Negros bridges have been dropped. Along with these are 10 bridge projects in Metro Manila that were supposedly due next year, 2023.
Still, BBB Delivered to its Promise
Secretary Mark Villar gave a detailed statement on the status of the BBB projects last June 2021. He said, “A total of 6.5 million workers made ‘Build, Build, Build’ a reality. We are confident that President Duterte’s promise of decongesting EDSA by 2022 will become a reality. In one month, we will open the Pantaleon-Estrella Bridge which will connect Makati and Mandaluyong within 12 minutes. Before the term of the President ends, we will complete the construction of several big-ticket projects, including the Kalayaan Bridge linking Taguig and Pasig, Binondo-Intramuros Bridge, Mindanao Avenue Extension, Katipunan Avenue Extension, and the NLEX-SLEX Connector project which will connect Skyway Stage 3 and NLEX Harbor Link.”
The Binondo-Intramuros Bridge recently opened this April 2022 | Photo Courtesy from Mark Villar’s Facebook page
Secretary Arturo Tugade added, “Since 2016, the Department of Transportation has completed a total of 212 airport projects and working on 102 more. This 2021, we are set to inaugurate various completed airport projects in Clark, Catarman, Butuan, Busuanga, Zamboanga, Siquijor, General Santos, and Bicol. Across the archipelago, we have also completed a total of 446 seaport projects, while 117 more are ongoing. New railways are also being built and existing rail lines are getting much-needed upgrades. In fact, this month, we will finally inaugurate the LRT-2 East Extension, and before the year ends, the massive rehabilitation of the MRT-3 and the Common Station will be completed. To date, we have a total of 1,090 kilometers of railway length with ongoing project implementation. To decongest EDSA, we have established the EDSA Busway, and built Bike Lanes to promote active transport.”
DPWH Undersecretary Emil Sadain said in a virtual briefing February of 2022 that 18 more out of the 112 infrastructure flagship projects are scheduled to be completed at the end of President Duterte’s administration.
What are the future plans for the Build, Build, Build Program?
The continuation of the BBB program is one of the major concerns that is being asked to the presidential aspirants for the upcoming 2022 elections in the Philippines. The government agencies working on the program like DPWH are hopeful that the next administration will continue these massive efforts to develop excellent infrastructure across the nation.
The Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge is set to be completed by early 2023 | Photo Courtesy from Mark Villar’s Facebook page
Undersecretary Sadain said this in line with the question about the future of the BBB program, “We have seen also that the viability of implementing these projects are so strong because of the huge economic impact that will be brought to the country. We believe that these can be sustained by the next administration.”
Sadain enumerated the following as the big-ticket projects under the BBB program that he hopes the new administration to continue are:
Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge
Panglao-Tagbilaran City Offshore Connector
Three Tawi-Tawi Bridges
Panay-Guimaras-Negros Link Bridge
Coastal [Road Construction]
Panguil Bay Bridge
Samal Island-Davao City Connector
As for DOTr, the projects mentioned that are considered of high importance are:
North Commuter Railway
Metro Manila Subway
Vince Dizon, Chief Executive Officer of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), believes that the BBB program is setting up the foundation for the next administration when it comes to infrastructure. He said, “We only have less than one year left in the Duterte administration. Whoever the next president will be, it is incumbent upon the next administration to not only continue, but to fast-track all the good work that has been done under the leadership of President Duterte.”
The future is still uncertain about the BBB program but it was surely a great start to hopefully open more doors when it comes to further infrastructure developments in the country.
To be in the know of the latest updates on the BBB program, visit build.gov.ph.
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