Bernardo M. Villegas
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Infrastructure President (Part 2)

           What should be implemented in the first 100 days of the Duterte Administration as regards infrastructures?  The following should be the guiding principles:  a) Correct the adverse impact of government inactions; b) Institute the appropriate governance on the basis of matching authority, responsibility, and resourcing through Executive Orders; and c) Create the foundation for sustained results for the six years of the presidency.

          The lowest hanging fruit has to do with vehicle plates and drivers licenses that have not been issued under the Aquino Administration.  Un-plated vehicles make our police actions against criminal elements more difficult.  In addition, drivers without proper licenses add to the security problems.  The effects of congestion are worsened by bad driving practices of drivers.  The police cannot arrest drivers who violate traffic laws if they cannot identify who they are.  It is, therefore, very urgent that the following be accomplished within the first one hundred days of the Duterte Administration:

          1. Rebid vehicle plates contract under a build-operate-transfer (BoT) scheme subject to Swiss challenge.  The Commission on Audit had rendered the awards as null and void.  A BoT scheme subject to Swiss challenge should accelerate contract award while improving transparency and reducing the government’s cash outlays.

          2.  Review and enforce compliance for drivers license supply contract:  Commission on Audit will be instructed to audit the terms of the contract and the present supplier’s compliance with its obligations.  Should a cancellation be justified, the government will nullify these contracts immediately and rebid them under the BoT scheme subject to Swiss challenge.

          3.  Review and enforce compliance for operations and maintenance contract for MRT-3:  The Commission on Audit is instructed to audit the awarding of the contract, and the present supplier’s compliance with their obligations.  All options are on the table to correct the sorry state of non-repairs and maintenance of an essential public service.  It is unjust to deny our commuters six hours of their day stuck in travel, when they could fruitfully spend this time with their family and friends.

          Within the first 90 days, a new contract for vehicle plates should be awarded to a financially viable BoT proponent.  Should sufficient grounds exist for contract cancellation, the Government will proceed to cancel and rebid the contracts under BoT subject to Swiss challenge, within sixty days after the date of contract cancellation.

          To address the traffic problem in Metro Manila, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will be empowered under an Executive Order granting transitory power to implement the following:

          1.  Transfer all regulatory and permitting authority on intermodal provincial bus terminals to MMDA from LGUs:  MMDA shall rationalize the locations, operations, and interconnects to reduce the number of provincial buses plying the roads of Metro Manila.  By providing feeder transport within Metro Manila, road congestion is reduced.

          2.  Consolidate and integrate licensing for tricycles, jeepneys, and feeder transport services under MMDA:  This allows coherent rules across Metro Manila, and better alignment with the feeder transport approach that MMDA is empowered to introduce.

          3. Enhance Pasig River Ferry service with intermodal capabilities:  This serves as alternatives to roads and Light Railway Transport (LRTs) and Metro Rail Transport (MRTs) in transporting people and goods.

          4.  Integrate and enhance Metro Manila-wide bicycle network and facilities:  Separate bicycle lanes are provided to ensure the safety of commuters choosing to use bicycles as a mode of transport within localized areas.

          5.  Rationalize waste disposal and management:  Licensing and regulation of private dumpsites and waste disposal facilities are granted under MMDA to better plan the location, logistics, and management of waste for Metro Manila.  MMDA is empowered to seek ways to reduce waste through recycling and transformation of waste into useful products through partnerships with private investors.

          Also within the first 30 days, the incoming Department of Public Works and Highways and Department of Transportation will submit a list of priority projects that will be awarded during the first 100 days.  These projects will include regional airports, sea ports and regional roads that will be awarded through BoT under Swiss challenge.  The Government within ninety days will recommend the merger of all Executive agencies, and the mechanism to achieve this, involved in the implementation of the infrastructure program.  Especially urgent is the merger of the Philippine Ports Authority and the Philippine National Railway that will result in a seamless system for the transport of passengers and freight.

          The accomplishment of these infrastructure-related initiatives during the first 100 days shall set the foundation for the longer-term economic modernization agenda for the next six years.  A most important objective of this modernization program is greater inclusiveness and increased economic participation by reducing rural isolation through enhanced connectivity.  A defining characteristic of the Duterte Administration will be the significant increase in the incomes and employment in the rural areas through improved infrastructures.  For comments, my email address is bernardo.villegas@uap.asia.