The Philippine Construction Association Inc. (PhilConstruct) is urging the government to expedite the implementation of big-ticket projects under the public-private partnership (PPP) program to enable the country to catch up with neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
PhilConstruct President Delfin Wenceslao Jr. said many construction projects are being delayed on government inaction and the stalemate effects of temporary restraining orders (TRO) issued by the courts.
He pointed out that some of the projects are at a standstill for years because of TROs issued or conflicts that the government failed to address.
Wenceslao said PPP projects are being delayed by TROs, right of way issues, violation claims from non-winning bidders, and re-bidding of projects, among others.
“Our neighbors in Asean are faster than us [because of our delays]. Indonesia, and Vietnam can overtake the country. We keep on debating, we keep going to court. And until the court decides, nothing is moving,” Wenceslao said.
“Everytime we delay, they get one step ahead of us,” said Ronaldo Elepano, Jr., PhilConstruct 2014 overall chairman.
Wenceslao said the country’s construction projects are composed of two sectors: the PPP projects and the private sector investment projects.
With the government having a hand only at the PPP projects, he said it should contribute by providing policy decisions that can hasten the projects’ execution.
“Among the contractors, we have the capacity to build. We know the business better. The government has to come up with policy decisions so that we can move faster and catch up with, if not surpass, our Asean peers,” Wenceslao said.
He added that the Philippines may be the fastest growing country in the region in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), but there is still a lot of room for improvement in the construction and infrastructure investments to make the growth sustainable.
Among the PPP projects facing delays are the awarding of the Cavite Laguna Expressway (Calax) project due to the appeal of San Miguel Group to the Palace despite Team Orion winning the bid; and the awarding of the LRT, MRT Common Station project as the courts granted SM Group’s petition for a TRO for the construction of the common station at the side of the Ayala Group’s TriNoma mall from the initially set SM North EDSA mall.
The common station will connect LRT 1, MRT 3 and eventually MRT 7, which will increase foot traffic to establishments linked to it. This makes the project desirable to both Ayala and SM group to boost the flow of people into their respective malls — TriNoma and SM North EDSA.
The completion of the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road project is also deferred to 2017 onwards from the initially set end-2016 as it is still being subjected to a Swiss challenge from the planned joint venture method that could expedite the project.
A Swiss challenge is a form of public procurement that requires a government agency that has received an unsolicited bid for a public project or services to publish the bid and invite third parties to match or exceed it.
Since the Aquino administration started inviting investors to take part in the PPP program four years ago, it has awarded so far the following projects: The P2.01 billion Daanghari-SLEX Link Road, P16.42 billion PPP for School Infrastructure Project (PSIP) Phase 1, P8.8 billion PPP for School Infrastructure Project (PSIP) Phase 2, and P15.52 billion Ninoy Aquino International Airport Expressway.
The other projects are the P5.69 billion modernization of the Philippine Orthopedic Center, P1.72 billion Automatic Fare Collection System, P17.52 billion Mactan-Cebu International Airport passenger terminal building, and the P64.6 billion Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 Cavite Extension Project.