IN his presentation before multi stakeholders, Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez said, “in this administration, start means groundbreaking and actual construction.” With a ticket price of P326 billion, covering railways, bridges and dams, Dominguez pointed out that under the Duterte administration, “when we say start, we do not mean just bidding out projects, signing contracts or attending opening ceremonies.” He added, “we will no longer tolerate the wishy-washy promises that implementing agencies have been accustomed to making in the past.”
The three railway projects outside Metro Manila, new public transport lines along the main Metro Manila artery, Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA), will begin construction this year. The three railways are Clark-Subic, Tutuban-Clark and the 581-kilometer South Line of the North-South Railway Project connecting Tutuban, Calamba, Batangas and Bicol. The Department of Transportation (DoTr) will be the implementing agency of the rail projects, with funding to be a combination of official development a ssistance, public-private partnership concessions, and government funds.
The construction of the Kaliwa and Chico River dams will also start this year together with projects at Clark International Airport, the Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit traversing EDSA, and three bridges across the Pasig river. The dams will be funded by China
By 2018, construction of long-span bridges between Bicol and Samar,and between Leyte and Surigao, will finally make land travel between Luzon,Visayas and Mindanao possible. The 2000-kilometer Mindanao railway—which will connect its large cities—may start construction next year, as well as more bridges crossing the Pasig river, and the development of Clark Green City.
The planned infrastructure buildup will attract more foreign investments, as well as boost productivity. Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno earlier said that geo-tagging will be used to closely monitor the infrastructure projects to be rolled out this year in order to fast-track implementation. Diokno stated that “part of the plan to make the six years of the Duterte administration a so-called ‘golden age of infrastructure’ was spending P846.3 billion, or 5.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), on infrastructure this year alone. The budget for infrastructure expenditures in 2017 accounted for a fourth of the total and was 13.7-percent bigger than last year’s program.
Hybrid financing “would enable the government to profitably manage the leveraging” of close to P1 trillion in official development assistance (ODA) and loans that it had secured from Japan and China alone in just six months of the Duterte presidency.” Hybrid financing would bring down borrowing costs. Dominguez explained leveraging on hybrid financing by using part-ODA and part-multilateral agency loans actually increases the number of projects that can be done. “Hybrid financing would involve, for instance, a mix of ODA, which provides concessional interest rates of 0.2-0.5 percent, with development funds from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank to execute an infrastructure project. Combining both types of financing sources would thus enable the government to build more big-ticket infrastructure projects.”
These statements, coming from the top finance and budget managers of the country, are more important than any “palitulo” video statement by a reckless Vice President or an impeachment complaint that is a time-honored practice of a party list that has always been in the forefront of destroying buildings and institutions. For them, start means destroy the presidency. It is no longer destabilizing but ousting a duly elected President because they just don’t like him.
Furthermore, the yardstick used to measure a leader has changed. Apparently, the yardstick for Aquino cannot be applied for Duterte because Aquino, in their eyes, is the epitome of what is just and good. And you can run down the issues against Aquino from the Luneta hostage crisis, Yolanda, Mamasapano, KKK, Zamboanga siege, missing in action days, Napoles, DAP-PDAF, rigged impeachment of Chief Justice Corona, missing Malampaya, intel fund on crimes, unliquidated advances of his core Cabinet officials, and a lot more but his six years appear to be the model of governance and the nine months of Duterte is so appalling that he needs to be removed.
And as start is being invoked in building the nation, start is also the flag waved to destroy it politically. We have never had our politics serving what is best for our nation, save probably the time of FVR. Post-EDSA, our politics have been a drag. We removed President Estrada for his way of governing and his midnight Cabinet. We installed PGMA but needed to hold her captive because of alleged cheating putting her legitimacy at issue. We elected an Aquino again because he was an Aquino. And now we have the first mayor and the first Mindanaoan, we want to oust him because he is reportedly a killer. We never seem able to respect mandates of our leaders. Oust we must and that can be either removing the elected leader or weakening the foundations of the nation, causing it to spiral away.
In the old days, when before foreigners, we speak with one voice. Today, using seal and flag, we have a Vice President who, for her own convenience, spins things to put down an elected President. When a video is made in February and aired in March, saying “palitulo” is by design, you had all the time in the world to reframe. But with malice, the Vice President shot down the presidency and the PNP.
And then an impeachment complaint which is a rehash of all the accusations thrown PRRD’s way since the campaign, covering hearings in the Senate, scripted, staged and handled by Senator Antonio Trillanes and Senator Leila de Lima and supported by other Liberal Party senators. A cursory review of the complaint shows that securing a conviction is not what they have in mind. It’s destroying the economy; making investors leave are the two goals of those who lost in the 2016 elections.
There are two drivers of the economy: OFW remittances and BPO. Tinker with one, we implode. There are also investors waiting in the sidelines but the shaking that Robredo, Trillanes and the Liberal Party are doing of a man who won an election are becoming more and more strident. Should we worry? Nope, but let us start. Let the crybabies do their thing and let us all pull in one direction with Duterte, and row in unison across the rough seas. About time we let the vultures eat the dried carcass fed by soiled yellow hands and the living start rowing towards our promised land. We are captains of our fate and “every nation determines its own destiny; the cleverer the nation, the better the fate!”