The coming election will halt the implementation of the Duterte administration’s flagship infrastructure program, ‘Build, Build, Build’.
Starting March 29 until May 12 of this year, the government is not allowed to release funds for public works constructions and for the hiring and movement of government personnel.
The ban is implemented to ensure that the government’s resources will not be used to influence voters.
President Duterte’s economic managers are seeking an exemption for big-ticket infrastructure projects worth around P500 billion. Department of Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno said that the economic team has already identified specific projects that they will request an exemption from the spending ban.
Diokno said that the country’s budget for infrastructure is close to P1 trillion, this year. He added that it is important for these projects to start construction in the first quarter of the year.
Support from the Senate
Senator Ralph Recto supported the Budget Secretary’s call to exempt infrastructure projects from the election ban. He cited a provision from the Senate version of the 2019 national budget stating that infrastructure projects under the legislation are exempted from the prohibitions against release, disbursement, or expenditure of public funds and against the construction of public works, and delivery of materials for public works.
He also added that most infrastructure projects are already behind schedule and suspending work may only aggravate the delay.
Recto also said that the ban will coincide with summer which is the best time for construction, weather-wise.
Task Force Bangon Marawi is also seeking exemption from the election ban on public spending and public works.
Among the high-priority projects under the rehabilitation of a 250-hectare most affected area in Marawi are supposed to be implemented between the months of March to June. The construction of the Grand Pagadian Central Market worth P443 million, barangay complex with a health center and madrasa worth P408 million, a school building worth P1.14 million, and port facilities worth P120 million are among the big-ticket projects under the rehabilitation program.