The current administration’s big infrastructure program earned buzz on local Twitter after it was brought up during the Commission on Elections‘ sponsored presidential debate.
The debate dubbed The Pilipinas Debates 2022: The Turning Point” was held on Saturday, March 19 at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila in Pasay City.
It was the first one Comelec organized for presidential candidates of the 2022 polls.
Nine presidential candidates participated in the forum. They are as follows:
- Ernesto Abella
- Leody De Guzman
- Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso
- Norberto Gonzales
- Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson
- Faisal Mangondato
- Jose Montemayor
- Sen. Manny Pacquiao
- Vice President Leni Robredo
Presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr. did not attend the debate.
During the program proper, the assigned moderator, journalist Luchi Cruz-Valdez asked the candidates about their views on continuing the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program of the administration.
“Tagumpay ba ang ‘Build, Build, Build’ at kung kayo’y maluluklok, itutuloy niyo ba ito? Why or why not?” Valdez asked.
Most presidential candidates lauded the ongoing infrastructure plan as “successful”
They also expressed intent to continue the infrastructure projects if they were elected as president.
How will the candidates improve the country’s infrastructure?
Abella, former presidential spokesperson, said that he will continue the infrastructure developments.
“I would continue that and push it beyond building infrastructures. I would also like to build, build, build the next generation,” he said.
Abella further said that he will focus on the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sector of education.
De Guzman, a labor leader, acknowledged that the infrastructure projects did help the country.
However, he said that the projects worsened poverty and inflicted hardships on the Filipino people.
De Guzman also slammed the program for the growing national debt that could have been used to resolve other pressing issues including education, higher prices of rice, gasoline and electricity.
“Walang kwentang gobyerno! Yung basic na kailangan ng mga mamamayan ay hindi natutugunan. Yun ang aking pagtingin sa nangyaring Build, Build, Build na ito. Binaon tayo sa grabeng utang,” he said.
Moreno said that he will pick up where the program would be left off.
However, he said he would prioritize housing, schools and post-harvest facility should he be elected in office.
“We will build more housing, better schools, more hospitals, more post-harvest facility para sa ating fisherfolks at farmers at maghahayop,” Moreno said.
For Gonzales, he will first look into the program first and find out if it serves the people better or not before deciding to continue it.
“Napakaimportante ang ugnayan ng bawat mamamayan sa lipunan. Titingnan ko po kung ang Build, Build, Build ay may pantay-pantay na pagtingin,” he said.
For Lacson, “Build, Build, Build” program can be deemed successful despite accomplishing only 12 out of the 119 planned projects.
To improve it, he eyes shifting the BBB to public-private partnership (PPP), the program revived by the Aquino administration.
Mangondato said that he would continue the program.
However, he also asked if the projects will benefit the public more or not.
Gonzales also shared a similar position.
Montemayor, a physician and lawyer, said that he will continue the projects out of respect for the contracts signed.
He said that if he gets elected, he would monitor where the loans for the project will go.
“Now, siguraduhin nating mabuti na napupunta sa tama iyan,” he said.
Pacquiao said that he will focus on accomplishing the infrastructure projects in Visayas and Mindanao.
“Madagdagan pa po an gating mga daan sa ka-Mindanao-an, Visayas, marami pa po talagang kailangang ma-develop sa Mindanao area,” the senator said.
“Alam niyo sa totoo lang, kaya hindi po mai-stop ang kaguluhan sa Mindanao because napapabayaan po. Wala pong development na nangyayari,” he added.
Robredo expressed commitment to continue the program.
She said she will put emphasis on the private-public partnership instead of the official development assistance (ODA) if elected.
“Itutuloy po natin yung Build, Build, Build pero magbibigay tayo ng emphasis on PPP instead of ODA para hindi na utang,” Robredo said.
“Pero for PPP to succeed, kailangan isiguro natin na inayos natin ang pamahalaan para maraming investors ang tumiwala sa atin,” she added.