Get ready for the “Build, Better, More” infrastructure program

If there is something highly significant done by the previous administration under former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that a lot of people will benefit from, it would be the “Build Build Build” infrastructure program which was designed to grow the economy, reduce poverty and solve congestion. This resulted in expansion and improvements through projects on roads, bridges, highways, airports and also water resources. For more on the impact of “Build Build Build”, click here and here.

Of course, the 6-year term of Duterte was ultimately insufficient to complete all the projects of the program (note: the incomplete ones are still continuing) and now we have a new leader with President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., who specifically mentioned infrastructure during his State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Yesterday, it was reported by the Manila Bulletin that a new infrastructure program under the Marcos administration has officially been announced as “Build, Better, More”. Other than the name, there are notable details listed which will give people a clear idea about what to expect about the continued development of Philippine infrastructure.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the Manila Bulletin news report. Some parts in boldface…

“Build, Better, More”–or BBM for short–is officially a program of the Marcos administration, and the executive branch is asking P1.196 trillion from Congress in order to fund it next year.

Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Amenah Pangandaman acknowledged during a press conference with House reporters Monday, Aug. 22 that the BBM program was an “expansion” of the previous Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure modernization initiative.

BBM is also the initials of the incumbent President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

The BBM program was listed as a “spending priority” on the DBM’s briefer on the 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP), which the agency submitted to the House of Representatives Monday.

A total of P1.196 trillion has been allocated for the government’s 2023 infrastructure programs,” read a statement from DBM, referring to the budget being sought from lawmakers.

“The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will receive [a] P718.4-[billion] budget in 2023, while the Department of Transportation will receive P167.1 [billion] in 2023–an increase by 120.4 percent for its P75.8-[billion] budget in 2022, which covers the augmented funding requirements for various foreign assisted railway projects,” it stated.

Pangandaman said during the presser that BBM includes “convergence programs with Department of Tourism, Department of Education, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Trade and Industry”.

“Related po doon sa Build, Better, More program natin (Related to our Build, Better, More program), which is an expansion of the Build, Build, Build program are programs po under the DOTr,” the DBM chief noted.

Among the major transportation infrastructure projects that will be implemented include the North-South Commuter Railway (costing P75.1 billion), Metro Manila Subway Project (P26.3 billion), and Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 Cavite Extension Project (P2.7 billion).

Also linked to the BBM program are more specific infrastructure initiatives such as the Network Development Program (P140.4 billion), Asset Preservation Program (P88.5 billion), and Bridge Program (P38 billion).

Pangandaman said that the Network Development Program’s purpose is to “expand the connectivity and road systems across the country”. On the other hand, the Asset Preservation Program involves “maintenance, rehabilitation, and reconstruction”.

“We also have the Bridge Program po, [the] construction and maintenance and repair of bridges,” she added.

In his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 25, Marcos said, “The backbone of an economy is its infrastructure. The infrastructure program of the Duterte administration must not only continue but, whenever possible, be expanded. We shall confidently build on this firm foundation established by my predecessor. As it is in building an edifice, we must keep the momentum and aspire to Build Better More.”

The 2023 NEP, which is the precursor of the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) or proposed national budget, will be scrutinized first in the House of Representatives. It will eventually endorse to the Senate its GAB after they approve it on third and final reading.

Regardless of who is in-charge in the national government, I personally favor the widespread, massive development of infrastructure projects around the country. In my honest opinion, improved and expanded infrastructure will pave way for better economic growth covering vast sectors like industry, commerce, tourism, real estate, agriculture and more. The past Build, Build, Build and the new Build, Better, More are clearly more than just about solving traffic congestion. The Marcos administration now has the task of implementing the new infrastructure program which will not only improve infrastructure but also create new jobs.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What is your reaction to this recent development? Are you glad that President Marcos and his administration are focused on continuing the momentum of massive infrastructure development that his predecessor started? What kind infrastructure projects would you want the nation government to start working on?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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