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DEASTINATION: Under Construction

Updated: Nov 14, 2021

Cardinal Conversations and the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies-Transportation Science Society of the Philippines-Mapua Student Chapter (EASTS/TSSP-MAPUA) teamed up again to give another relevant and knowledgeable episode.

This episode was joined by a former Mapuan, Engr. Dianne Nicole T. Quintal, Engineer II of the Quality Assurance Section, from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to talk about the Build, Build, Build (BBB) Program.

The Philippines is endowed with extraordinary human and natural resources, which offer tremendous potential for eradicating poverty. However, overall development results have fallen short of possibilities over the last few decades. Mainly, public institutions' poor performance explains the gap in providing services to citizens. This results in a vicious cycle of poor public services, loss of confidence in the government, and citizens' refusal to pay enough resources to the administration. The critical development task, then, is to revert to a cycle of moral development, in which higher government revenue results in improved service performance and increasing public trust in government.

Infrastructure is critical to this process of progress. Inadequate infrastructure has restricted economic progress and poverty alleviation in the Philippines significantly. While the country has easy access to water, sanitation, and electricity, service levels have not kept pace with population expansion and development. The country's infrastructure development is limited by an adverse business environment, planning, coordination, finance deficiencies, and a decline in private sector participation in infrastructural development.

The Build, Build, Build Program

President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration flagship program, the Build, Build, Build (BBB) Program, intends to take in the Philippines' "Golden age of infrastructure." Due to an infrastructure inadequacy, the Philippines' economic growth has been dubbed the "Achilles' heel" due to an infrastructure deficiency.

The COVID-19 lockdown and other containment measures have significantly influenced economic activity in the Philippines and worldwide. According to the government, the BBB initiative will help jump-start the Philippine economy in a pandemic. However, in the current neoliberal environment, would BBB suffice?

To keep pace with the rising urbanization and population increase, the BBB Program aimed to boost infrastructure growth in the country significantly. Due to numerous issues, including lack of technology, right-of-way issues, inadequate planning and identification, and procurement challenges.

COVID-19 continues to significantly impact the world economy, and the BBB Program has not prevented this. Beyond the construction delays, the government and its development agencies found it difficult to collect the funding needed to complete these critical infrastructure projects in time for COVID-19, which focused on health and digital infrastructure and transportation. Significant losses incurred by leading companies in the country due to the health crisis also raised doubt on numerous BBB public-private partnership funding initiatives, not to mention their low absorption ability.

By leaving a large backlog of infrastructure projects for the next regime, the Duterte administration assures that the Filipino people will be left with a legacy of progress.

The Major Infrastructures of the Project

BBB is based on Duterte's long-standing belief and commitment for a more equitable and adaptive national development in the Philippines' regions and countryside. Duterte emphasized that the best way to deal with the deteriorating traffic and congestion in Metro Manila and the uneven development that benefits Metro Manila and the country's traditional metropolitan centers is to disperse economic activities throughout the country. Thus, even while the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, his administration moves ahead with infrastructure development at a breakneck pace.

For instance, sustainable green buildings can reduce environmental impacts, transportation expenses, and water usage, all of which help to conserve our limited supply of natural resources and help the environment. Green buildings not only benefit the environment but also benefit the economy and society. It provides jobs and spur economic growth and creativity in the surrounding area, promote occupant health and well-being, preserve a healthier indoor climate and air quality, and reduce the burden on public infrastructure. There are also financial advantages to using green building materials. Lower operating expenses increase productivity and boost profits all at the same time. Because they are environmentally friendly, green buildings have the potential to alter our way of life and shape the future.

Impacts on the Economy and Environment

The building of infrastructures from railroads to high-rise buildings significantly affect the production and trade in and outside the country. With improved roads transformed into farm-to-market roads, farmers' goods are easily transferred to city markets and become accessible to the locals. This project of DPWH assures the quality of the road they build and plan to provide a safe journey to the exporters of the crops and other farm produce.

On the other hand, one of the main concerns in the fast evolution of infrastructures is environmental issues. There is an impact from the formulation of cement on the energy consumption of cranes. Thus, there is the possibility of increasing the number of carbon footprints, a severe risk of pollution, and soil erosion. Engr. Quintal addressed that government projects promote environmental sustainability and do not risk the environment of future generations. She added that most of the newly built buildings incorporate plants to mend the damage from construction.

Impact on the Filipinos and the Philippines

The country mirrors its citizens. The Philippines is the reflection of the Filipinos. One of the reasons why Filipinos are late and Filipino time exists is because of the chaos in the mass transportation system. This is due to the lack of road signs, stop lights, and road space. Thus, the BBB program aims to reflect the progress that the Filipinos can be proud of. One of the impacts that it can have is smooth public transportation and the government, headed by DPWH, aims to provide that service to the Filipinos.

Engr. Quintal said, “Tangkilikin ang mass transportation dahil ito ang solution sa traffic congestion.” The picture of comparing 1 light rail train that accompanies 200 passengers and 117 cars of 200 people is an example to justify how mass transportation helps to solve traffic congestion in the country.

Moreover, the authorities are currently creating the blueprint to provide comfort while traveling and avoid hassle while commuting. The subways, airports, expressways, and rail extensions are on their way to be used by the public and clean up traffic jams.

Indeed, there is a bright future with the Build, build, build program. It is fun to imagine the Philippines with the systematized transportation and establishments that care for the environment and positively impact the economy. As a representative of the Department of Public Works and Highways, Engr. Quintal clearly illustrated the promising image of the country and the current progress of the program. As a civil engineer, who dreams of creating more straight roads in the Philippines, she advised her fellow pillars of the government to provide the Filipinos with comfortable public transportation and durable infrastructures.

Co-Writer: Maria Alekxandra Sison

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