Infrastructure think tank called on President Rodrigo Duterte to redirect the Build Build Build (BBB) projects budget to finance a massive amelioration program to fight the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.
The funding for the BBB projects are worth at least P4.3 trillion.
“Now is the time for the government to implement a massive Live, Live, Live program from the funding of its 100 BBB projects. New airports and railways will not matter if our people will die of coronavirus or hunger in the coming months. With the President’s special powers to reallocate government funding, funding for the BBB program should be suspended in favor of all measures needed to confront the coronavirus crisis,” Infrawatch PH convenor Terry Ridon was quoted in a statement.
Ridon added that the infrastructure projects were approved in November 2019, before the first reports of the coronavirus surfaced.
“The urgent infrastructure needed now are the health facilities and medical equipment required to service the growing number of coronavirus cases. The BBB projects can wait until after the last patient recovers,” Ridon explained.
Ridon also said that the infrastructure loans should be negotiated with funding agencies to be turned into social protection programs.
“The pending infrastructure loans are of no use to us today. What we need are additional funding from all sources to tide the country over during this crisis. This can be done, especially since the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) had begun as social protection grants and loans from the World Bank,” he said.
Ridon said there are currently 49 official development assistance (ODA) projects in the BBB program.
“This amounts to around P2.37 trillion (P2,370,581,810,000.00) in additional funding which the President can use at this time.”
“While it is unfortunate that the BBB should be suspended for now, we are facing a crisis no one knew would decimate our lives, our economy. The economic team should help the President understand that funding is available, and all will be done to get every bit of help into Filipino homes,” he concluded.