President to maximize powers for ‘Build, Build, Build’
By ROGER M. BALANZA with PNA report
Due to time constraints, Malacanang is not keen on supporting a House bill granting special powers to President Rodrigo Duterte in adopting a “national policy” in fast-tracking the implementation of the “Build, Build, Build” program on or before 2022.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the proposed measure is “no longer a priority legislative agenda” of Duterte, considering the time constraint.
House Bill 5456 was filed on Wednesday, November 13, by Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda after Senator Franklin Drilon described as a “dismal failure” the implementation of projects under the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program.
The Duterte government has alloted PHP9 trillion for the implementation of around 100 big-ticket infrastructure projects and over 10,000 small infrastructure projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program.
Even without special powers, the President can still fast-track implementation of the projects, said Panelo.
President Rodrigo Duterte will maximize the use of his “available” powers to ensure the full and effective implementation of his administration’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program, Panelo said on Saturday, November 16.
“The President will implement and maximize what is presently available under our laws for this purpose,” Panelo adds.
Earlier, Panelo said he considered as a “good idea” the proposal by Rep. Salceda to grant emergency powers to Duterte to speed up the implementation of the current administration’s infrastructure program.
“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, given that we only have less than three years left in office,” he said.
Panelo noted that there was progress in the implementation of the infrastructure program, citing the figures recently released by Bases Conversion and Development Authority president and chief executive officer Vivencio Dizon who also serves as Presidential Adviser for Flagship Programs and Projects.
Around 38 out of the revised list of 100 key infrastructure projects are expected to be completed by 2022, while 22 are “partially operational or substantially completed” and the remaining 40 would be finished “beyond 2022,” Dizon said in a Palace economic briefing on Wednesday.
Dizon also noted that 35 flagship infrastructure projects are ongoing, 32 will commence construction in the next six to eight months, 21 are in the advanced stages of government approval, and 12 in the advanced stages of a feasibility study.
Panelo was confident that all infrastructure projects “will be started within the governance of this Administration.”
“One of the inherent powers of the State is the power of eminent domain where pertinent government offices, through the Office of the Solicitor General, may expropriate or initiate proceedings there for to acquire private property for public use,” he said.
“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 added.
I will only face trial in a Philippine court presided by a Filipino judge and prosecuted by a Filipino, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday, July 17.
Duterte made this comment after the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a resolution seeking to look into human rights violations in the country in relation to the administration’s anti-illegal drugs campaign.
“Look, as I have told you before ladies and gentlemen of the world, kasali na ‘yang including) — and all the governments there, I will only face a — be tried or face a trial in a Philippine court presided by a Philippine, Filipino judge, prosecuted by a Filipino,” said Duterte in a TV interview with Pastor Apollo Quiboloy in Davao City.
“I will not answer a Caucasian asking question, or white man there. You must be stupid. Who are you? I am a Filipino, we have our courts here. Why would you have to bring me somewhere else? I would not like that,” he added.
He said he does not see the need to face the international tribunal since Philippine courts were functioning.
“It’s working, I know it’s working, justice is working here,” Duterte said.
Presidential son Paolo “Pulong” Duterte has named Vice President Leni Robredo as part of a plot moving to remove President Rodrigo Duterte from office.
Other than Robredo, Pulong’s list of coup plotters includes former government officials, members of the church, journalists and militant groups, among others. The list was posted by Pulong on Facebook.
Malacañang on Monday, December 11, said there is no need to conduct a probe on Pulong’s list of individuals and groups that are allegedly conspiring to oust President Duterte.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark after the presidential son posted a so-called “Oust Duterte Movement” list on his personal Facebook account.
“We’ve been hearing conspiracies from the start of the [term of the] President and I’ve been saying that is natural for the opposition to conspire to oust the President,” Panelo told reporters in an interview after the regular Palace briefing.
“If they perceive him to be a bad President, then it’s their duty as far as they’re concerned to conspire,” he added, but noted that the Palace will not allow any act that violates the Constitution.
Panelo, however, said conspiracies mean nothing if the people behind it do not make plans to carry it out.
“Even if there are conspiracies if there are no overt acts to pursue that conspiracy the government will not mind,” Panelo said.
He said he will also ask the former Vice Mayor to explain the reason behind releasing such list.
Palace may also consider asking law enforcement or national security authorities to verify the alleged plot if there should be a formal request made, he added.
Freedom of expression
Panelo, meanwhile, said Palace respected the former Vice Mayor’s release of the list, noting that it is part of his “freedom of expression” and that personalities mentioned there always refute the allegations.
“First, we are not privy to the list issued by the former Vice Mayor. Number two, the President always respects the freedom of expression,” Panelo said.
“The [former] Vice Mayor then might have some reasons for issuing such a list, we do not know. And anybody who feels aggrieved, they can always refute the allegations contained on the list. That is the beauty of democracy,” he added.
Asked if the President had plans to speak to his son, Panelo said the President does not talk to any of his children about matters with respect to their principled positions or political decisions.
“He respects the decision, the stand of the children. Malalaki na sila e (They’re already adults),” Panelo said, noting that the former Vice Mayor is “competent enough” to explain his actions.
Panelo also pointed out that it was the younger Duterte’s right to react to attempts to oust his father.
“The former Vice Mayor is a son and all sons will react to any plot, any conspiracy that he perceives to be against the father. So, it is his right to react to certain things that he knows that we do not know of,” Panelo said.
“That is his right, we cannot deprive this person of expressing his sentiment especially because he is a son and all sons have the right to defend, to neutralize any attempt to discredit or assault the reputation and integrity of a father,” he added.
Meanwhile, he expressed confidence anew that any attempt to overthrow the Duterte government will not succeed given the President’s high trust and approval ratings and strong relationship with military and police personnel.
“Given the popularity rating of the President, no coup or conspiracy will succeed. The PNP (Philippine National Police) and military are in support of the President as well as majority of the Filipinos,” Panelo said. (PNA)