AN infrastructure-oriented thinktank called on President Rodrigo Duterte to rechannel funding from Build Build Build (BBB) projects amounting to at least P4.3-Trillion to finance the massive social amelioration program needed for a prolonged coronavirus crisis.
“Now is the time for 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,” said former Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon, Infrawatch PH convenor and former urban poor chief of the Duterte administration.
Ridon said the new list of infrastructure projects was 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,” added Ridon.
He noted that still unused infrastructure loans should be negotiated with funding agencies for conversion 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,” Ridon explained.
Ridon said there are currently 49 official development assistance (ODA) projects in the BBB program which could be converted into social protection programs to fight the coronavirus crisis.
"This amounts to around P2.37 Trillion (P2,370,581,810,000.00) in additional funding which the President can use at this time.”
He said the country’s current redline should be to end the pandemic in the soonest 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," Ridon explained.