Top L-R: Asec. Roderick Planta from NEDA, and Dr. Catalina Cabral from DPWH; Middle L-R: Dr. Kristoffer Berse from UP-NCPAG, and Dr. Philamer Torio from Ateneo School of Government; Bottom L-R: Dr. Mario Delos Reyes from UP School of Urban and Regional Planning, and Mr. Francis Cruz from Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry – Photo Collage by Gabrielle Marie Allarey
10 June 2021 – The DAP Center for Governance – Policy Research Office (CfG-PRO) held the second installment of the 2021 Thursday Talks Webinar Series under the Capability Building on Innovative Leadership for Legislative Staff (CBILLS) program entitled “Paving the Way: Assessing the Infrastructure Development Agenda in the Philippines.” The webinar was moderated by Dr. Kristoffer Berse from the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance and featured resource persons from the National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Public Works and Highways, Ateneo de Manila University, University of the Philippines, and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
In the first session, NEDA Investment Programming Group Assistant Secretary Roderick Planta discussed the economic agenda, status, and prospects of the Philippine infrastructure development program. Asec. Planta observed that the annual average of public infrastructure spending in proportion to the GDP has increased from around 2% during the last 20 years to about 5% in the last five years. This is due to the administration’s emphasis on accelerating the development of infrastructure projects through the Build! Build! Build! (BBB) Program. He also shared that resilience to natural disasters and future pandemics was factored in the Philippine Infrastructure Development Agenda for a prospect of continuous upward growth trajectory towards 2022.
During the second session, DPWH Undersecretary on Planning, PPP, and Information Management Service, Dr. Maria Catalina Cabral, shared that public infrastructure spending plummeted in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and recognized the role of the BBB program in accelerating infrastructure development towards post-pandemic economic recovery. Dr. Cabral also highlighted the status and accomplishments of the DPWH strategic infrastructure programs and cited their importance in promoting connectivity, tourism, resilience against natural hazards, modern and sustainable communities, and efficient transportation systems.
For the next session, panel discussants from the academe and private sector communicated their reactions and perceptions to the first two presentations. Dr. Philamer Torio, Associate Professor of the Ateneo School of Government, provided insights into the country’s low investment efficiency on infrastructure development. He recommended ways to address this by strengthening resources, policies, and institutions through PPP participation, long-term planning, and streamlining bureaucratic processes. Dr. Torio also added the importance of an updated, relevant, and integrated information database as well as academic support to develop the absorptive capacity of the government and infrastructure research.
UP School of Urban and Regional Planning Professor Dr. Mario Delos Reyes conveyed considerations for the government in integrated infrastructure development. Among these are the projection of supply and demand, allocation of proper location in conformity with other land uses, prediction of the effects of the proposed infrastructure facilities, and assessment of appropriateness and adequacy of the existing systems concerning the intended population to be served.
Lastly, PCCI Construction Committee Chair Francis Cruz talked about the interests of the private sector regarding infrastructure programs such as the continuity of infrastructure projects and streamlining government processes. He also shared his optimism regarding the faster infusion of construction technologies in the country, as a result of implementing ODA and PPP projects.
The livestream of this event can still be accessed through the Policy Research Office Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/DAPCFGPRO.