By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Two days after thinking that the proposal to give President Duterte emergency powers to hasten infrastructure projects was a good idea, Malacañang expressed that it may now be a belated move.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after Albay Representative Joey Salceda he would file a measure granting Duterte “emergency powers” to remove roadblocks to the “Build, Build, Build” program.
In a statement, Panelo recognized the move but acknowledged that it could be a little too late because the administration only has less than three years left in office.
“While we respect the wisdom of Congress and laud the gentleman from Albay in seeing the importance of this flagship infrastructure program of the current government, we consider this proposed measure belated and no longer a priority legislative agenda of the President,” he said Saturday.
“The President will implement and maximize what is presently available under our laws for this purpose,” he added.
The Palace official cited the State’s inherent power of eminent domain where pertinent government offices, through the Office of the Solicitor General, may expropriate or initiate proceedings, therefore, to acquire private property for public use.
“This power is particularly essential in securing rights of way, an issue that hampered the construction of vital infrastructure. The current agencies involved in the infrastructure program are presently utilizing this process,” Panelo said.
Under the government’s flagship infrastructure program, 35 are ongoing constructions; 32 projects are about to commence construction within six to eight months; 21 are in the advanced stages of government approval; and 12 in the advanced stages of feasibility studies.
“We expect 38 projects to be completed by 2022, 22 partially operational or at substantial completion, and while 40 are to be completed beyond 2022, all projects will be started within the governance of this Administration,” Panelo said.
On Thursday, said the proposal would allow Duterte to quickly resolve issues the hinder the progress of infrastructure projects like the right of way issues.
“Sa tingin ko maganda yung kay Congressman Salceda kasi nga one of the reasons why bumabagal yung projects kasi yung right of way. Nagkakaproblema, yung mga owners ayaw pumayag, nagti-TRO (I think Congressman Salceda’s suggestion was a good idea because one of the reasons why projects are getting delayed was because of the right of way issues. Owners are opposing, they file temporary restraining orders),” he said.
Earlier, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the government was planned to revise the program’s 75 infrastructure projects, to substitute them with others which are more economically feasible and doable.