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Build, Build, Build: The Mark of Mark Villar

6 April 2022
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Upon mentioning the word 'build,' one's mind could picture the vision of Makati, Ortigas, or even Metro Cebu, with their skylines filled with towering buildings both for residential and commercial use. Do you agree? But upon the beginning of the government's Build, Build, Build Program, Filipinos now associate the word with the many infrastructures currently on construction throughout the key cities in the archipelago.

 

Aside from brand recall, what did the Build, Build, Build Program manage to achieve? Is it only for those in the business district to have spacious offices? After a close examination, we've discovered that the truth is very far from the thought.

 

Rather, it is a vision for a better Philippine infrastructure that came to life, under the helm of the Duterte administration, with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar, taking the lead.

 

The Rise of the Build, Build, Build Program 

Rise of Build,Build,Build projects

As the demand for better infrastructures to cope with a developing nation's growth intensifies, the government launched the Build, Build, Build Program as its response. It will ease the much-needed improvement of the nation's roads, bridges, and other structures, but it also aims to give thousands of jobs to the Filipino people.

 

Through public-private partnerships (PPP), several segments of this massive infrastructure began. Several areas of the public sector became the focus of this massive government project. According to Socioeconomic Planning Undersecretary Jonathan Uy, The Program completed four projects worth P116.1 billion end of 2021. Another four projects worth Php119.8B will be done by June 2022.

 

Also Read: Binondo-Intramuros Bridge: The Iconic Bridge Project

 

Focus Areas of the Build, Build, Build Program

If you're wondering why there is a need to identify the segments that will benefit from this Program, this is to show the scope of this project and how it will benefit not just one or two sectors but the whole Philippines.

 

A. Business and Commerce (Roads, Highways, and Bridges)

Mark Villar road projects

One of the focuses of this project is the construction of roads, highways, and bridges to facilitate the faster exchange of products and goods throughout the country. As of the time of writing, a total of 29,264 kilometers of roads; 5,950 bridges and were also completed during these five years, with 1,859 of them under construction.

 

Among these bridges found all over the archipelago are the BGC-Ortigas Center Link Road Project, the Estrella Pantaleon Bridge, and the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge in the nation's capital, Manila.

 

Down south, works are ongoing at the Panguil Bay Bridge, which will connect the City of Tangub in Misamis Occidental to the Municipality of Tubod in Lanao del Norte. Considered a major leg of the BBB project, the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Link Bridge is 32.47-km, which will consist of a two-sea-crossing bridge connecting the three islands.

 

If there is one unique aspect of Secretary Villar's leadership in building roads and bridges for commerce, it's his penchant for small details. In an interview, he mentioned that one of the most notable would be DPWH's Laguna Lake Highway project. It has a protected bike lane to promote active transport and zero carbon footprint.

 

B. Public Safety and Protection from Natural Calamity (Flood Control Infrastructure)

With the creation of roads, highways, and bridges considered a primary concern for the project for its active role to boost the Philippine economy, several proactive efforts are also included in the Build, Build Program as preparation for possible flood occurrences during the typhoon season.

 

The BBB program covers 11,340 completed flood control projects, with 4,155 currently under construction. Among these projects include the Kabasalan River Flood Control Structure in Zamboanga Sibugay, the Estero De Sunog Apog Pumping Station, the flood risk management project in Cagayan River, and the Tagaloan River.

 

C. Healthcare

The global pandemic did not stop Secretary Mark Villar and the rest of the Build, Build, Build Program team. In fact, under the government initiative, they were able to complete a number of flagship infrastructure projects.

 

A total of 739 'We Heal As One' centers became operational in the middle of the pandemic. "It became mega community quarantine facilities, isolation facilities, off-site dormitories, or modular hospitals with a total of 27,302-bed capacities," Secretary Villar relates in an interview.

 

He also said, "It was important for us [to] complete Build, Build Build projects in the fastest timetable possible and pump the economy in the midst of the health crisis."

 

D.  Education

Our nation's educators and students will also benefit from the Build, Build, Build Program. With the Basic Education Facilities Fund, 150,149 classrooms, while 2,064 school workshop buildings and other school facilities were constructed, rehabilitated, and improved.

 

E. Agriculture

Not to forget our farmers, the Build, Build, Build Program also caters to the fast transport and exchange of crops. From the latest reports, the Agri-Infrastructure Support Programs, which cater to the farm-to-mill road construction, are also underway, with 2,025 km of farm-to-market roads already completed and 95 km of farm-to-mill roads completed.

 

F. Tourism and Transportation

Infrastructures under this Program aren't limited to roads, bridges, classrooms, and health centers. People from all occupations can also profit from the trains, airports, and ports included in this massive project.

 

Under several project initiatives, namely the Tourism Road Infrastructure Program (TRIP), Roads Leveraging Linkages for Industry and Trade (ROLL-IT) Program, Kalsada Tungo sa Paliparan, Riles, at Daungan (KATUPARAN) Program, several infrastructures concerning transportation and tourism are well on their way.

 

The TRIP initiative gave P121 million from 2016 to 2021 for the construction, improvement, and upgrading of 4,268 km of roads, with 2,436 km of tourism roads completed.

 

The Roads Leveraging Linkages for Industry and Trade (RoLL-IT) Program allotted a budget of P42 billion for about 1,519 km of roads leading to industries and trade corridors across the country, with 704 km of it already completed.

 

About KAlsada TUngo sa PAliparan, Riles at daungAN (KATUPARAN) Project, from 2016 to 2021, a total of P29 billion has already been allocated to upgrade and improve 906 km of access roads to airports, railway stations, and seaports, with 443 km of it already completed.

  

 

Mark Villar's Mark on the Build, Build, Build Program

With all the millions, if not billions of pesos allocated to these infrastructure projects in the Philippines, you might be wondering, how has Mark Villar made, and continues to make his mark on the Build, Build, Build Program? He did not do it in the spur of the moment. In fact, in his first six months on board, he made it a priority to ensure that all projects occurred promptly and true to what was expected. 

 

He adopted drone and satellite technology for monitoring DPWH projects and eliminated ghost projects via a geotagging system. Called the Infra-Track App, it has a built-in geotagging feature that plots photos inputted in the system for monitoring the exact geographic coordinates they were taken. It sends alerts to key officials of DPWH when a project is reported from a different location. Secretary Mark Villar ensured that there were no ghost projects in the DPWH.

 

He also streamlined processes in the department, thus lessening delays and meeting completion dates of the construction projects. Through Department Order No. 65 (series of 2016), he resolved the decades-old problem of right-of-way (ROW) acquisition. Through the order, ROW acquisition functions were distributed. Instead, the duties and responsibilities fell into the various implementing units of the department.

 

Finally, he implemented reforms on public procurement processes as vested under Department Order No. 127 series of 2018 on the strict application of R.A. 9184 Government Procurement Reform Act. The department implemented stricter protocols for bidders with ongoing delayed contracts with the DPWH.

 

What does Mark Villar want the Filipinos to remember about the Build, Build, Build Program? He has two. First, the entire DPWH worked very hard so that history would remember that the last five years were the Philippines' 'Golden Age of Infrastructure.' The second and final thing Secretary Mark Villar wants you to remember is that without the skill, work, and sacrifices of so many Filipino workers—the labor of brick-and-mortar layers, the expertise of highly-skilled Filipino engineers, and the billions of pesos from tax-paying citizens— did their job. The Build, Build, Build Program is not just meant for the privileged few but for all Filipinos to enjoy, profit from, and use in years to come.

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