Drilon: 'Build, Build, Build' is a dismal failure

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Senate Minority Speaker Franklin Drilon (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 12) — A lawmaker has expressed dismay over the administration's flagship infrastructure progress.

On Tuesday, Senate Minority Speaker Franklin Drilon said, "Sad to say, the Build, Build, Build program of this administration is a dismal failure... We have only two and a half years left of this administration. I don’t think any substantial progress insofar as that program is concerned will be achieved. The execution is simply dismal."

Data from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) showed only nine out of 75, or two percent of the projects under Build, Build, Build have commenced three years into the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.

LOOK: List of 75 projects under "Build, Build, Build"

Among those started are the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge in Pasig, the Binondo-Intramuros bridge, three road projects in Clark, and the Clark Airport.

Drilon added the failure of the Build, Build, Build program is reflective of the kind of economic relationship the Philippines has with China.

"What I recall is that the 75 projects would be part of the economic relationship between China and the Philippines. Apparently that aspect of relation between the two countries is a total failure," he said.

The Palace has called out Drilon for his statements, saying the senator's claim is baseless.

"Senator Frank, look at the administration you previously belonged. Six years, not a single infrastructure na nagawa. Malayong-malayo sa dami [There are so many]," said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo in a briefing Tuesday.

During the start of the plenary debates on the 2020 budget in the upper house, Senate Finance Committee chairman Senator Sonny Angara said the administration is scrapping some of its flagship projects in its Build, Build, Build program to be replaced by more doable ones.

Angara says the government found that some projects can no longer be implemented because of technical, financial, and economic non-viability.

"NEDA has been issuing and Secretary (Ernesto) Pernia has been mentioning they will revise the 75, kasi nakita nila na hindi talaga mairoll out yung iba so nirerevise nila to more doable or shovel ready project. We’ve been waiting for that list," he said.

Angara pointed out that only some of the flagship programs will not be rolled out, adding the government is still looking to complete a total of 43 projects by 2022.

Meanwhile, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar denied Drilon's claim, saying Build, Build, Build cannot be called a failure because even if the list of projects was revised, the new list includes projects that are under construction.

"I think they’re using the old list that we first used prior to all the technical studies. Now the new list, with all the studies we’ve done, many of these projects, some have been finished. Some are in advanced stage of construction. But if you look at the majority, most of them are already under construction so make no mistake, in any metric that you use, the build build build is not a failure," he said.

Recently, Presidential Adviser for Flagship Programs and Projects Vince Dizon said a revised Build, Build, Build list was approved by NEDA's Investment Coordination Committee.

The revised Build, Build, Build list now has 100 projects instead of 75, but a copy has yet to be released as of this writing.

The new pipeline would now only cost ₱4.2 trillion even if more projects have been added. Previously, the government said it will spend ₱8 trillion on infrastructure projects until 2022.

CNN Philippines' Melissa Luz Lopez contributed to this report.