Revised 'Build, Build, Build' list: Small projects in, difficult projects out

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The new list, which will include smaller projects and drop those which are "not feasible", will be out next week.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 25) — A revised list of flagship projects under the "Build, Build, Build" program will be out soon, with Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia saying that some big-ticket items will be dropped from the roll as these are "not feasible" anymore.

From a list of 75 infrastructure projects, Pernia said the tally could go up to 100 as they include new proposals, many of them "smaller" compared to those currently in the pipeline. These will take the place of projects that will be crossed out from the current roster, which include inter-island bridges linking Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

"It will be 100 because there will be many small projects but still game-changing, especially for the regions that will be included that we did not include in the first list," Pernia said in a press briefing on Friday. "So what we have done is take out certain projects that are impossible, given the engineering technology or maybe the technology we don’t have yet. It’s available somewhere but we still don’t have the technology to build in very deep waters and long bridges."

Pernia said they will drop the plan to build bridges connecting Matnog, Sorsogon to Samar; Leyte to Surigao; and Cebu to Bohol. Apart from being too advanced and costly to handle, practicality is also in question: "I think because some of them, the traffic doesn’t justify their construction at this time."

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President Rodrigo Duterte's economic managers vowed to make their six years in office as the "Golden Age of Infrastructure" as they unveiled a grand plan to build 75 high-impact projects. The goal is to improve connectivity and mass transport to spur economic growth, create jobs, and lift millions of Filipinos out of poverty.

Other insertions would be road projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways, Pernia said. This includes the Skyway Stage 3, which would link Buendia to Balintawak through an elevated toll road. The CITRA Central Expressway Corporation, a unit of the San Miguel Corporation (SMC), proposed to build the 18.68-kilometer for ₱37.43 billion and operate the route for 30 years.

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Pernia added that the list will be released next week.

Among the new entrants to the lineup are the planned repairs and upgrade for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and the ₱734-billion Bulacan airport, both of which are unsolicited proposals from private builders. The NAIA rehabilitation plan was put forward by a "super consortium" of seven local conglomerates, while the Bulacan gateway proposal came from SMC. Both come without any government guarantees, with the state simply in charge of the approval of the projects.

Pernia said that the updated list of priorities will also include projects from the Aquino administration like the Bohol International Airport as well as public-private partnership deals, the latter having taken the backseat under Duterte's watch. Official development assistance from other countries, mainly Japan and China, have taken over as source of funding next to allocations from the national budget.

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Pernia admitted that not all of the 100 projects will be done by the time Duterte steps down in 2022, but said that at least half have been by then. Prior to the revision, Socioeconomic Planning Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said 22 of the 75 projects will be completed by the end of Duterte's term, down from the earlier goal of finishing 25 on the list.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Sandra Zialcita contributed to this report.