Malaya Business Insight : BBB projects still a go, says next DPWH chief

By Jocelyn Montemayor | Malaya Business Insight

Marcos fills up more Cabinet posts
THE incoming administration of President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is looking at sustaining the Build, Build, Build (BBB) program of the Duterte administration and complete projects that are already ongoing, incoming Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Manuel Bonoan said yesterday.

Bonoan, in an interview with CNN Philippines, said priorities will be given to high-impact projects, especially in the road sector or those that would address traffic congestion, provide safe mobility, and support the agricultural and tourism areas.

Bonoan was among the early appointees of Marcos Jr., along with Vice President-elect Sara Duterte-Carpio who has been named secretary of the Department of Education, and Victor Rodriguez who will be the next Executive Secretary.

Yesterday, incoming Press Secretary Rose Beatrix ‘Trixie’ Cruz-Angeles announced that Marcos Jr. has nominated former Commission on Information and Communication and Technology (CICT) chairman Ivan John Uy as secretary of the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT), former Manila Rep. Naida Angping as secretary of the Presidential Management Staff (PMS), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Assistant Governor Amenah ‘Mina’ Pangandaman as secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Liloan Mayor Esperanza Christina Frasco as secretary of the Department of Tourism (DOT), and broadcaster Erwin Tulfo as secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Cruz-Angeles said the five incoming Cabinet officials, who have already accepted the nominations, were chosen for their “experience in public service and their proven service record.”

BBB PROJECTS

Bonoan, who is currently the SMC Tollways president and chief executive officer, said the incoming government’s infrastructure plate is brimming with projects that need to be sustained and completed to achieve the economic growth that the new president is aspiring for.

“As far as plans of the Department of Public Work and Highways in this administration of president-elect Bongbong Marcos Jr., we are laying down our initial plans for this administration and it would be to continue the Build, Build, Build projects that have already been started under this administration of President Duterte and to finish actually the ongoing projects at the earliest possible time, so they can be utilized immediately,” he said.

He said the incoming administration intends to invite the private sector to join public-private partnerships, especially in projects that would address traffic and provide efficient, safe, and unimpeded mobility in the years to come, and those that would resolve flooding problems especially in growth centers such as in Metro Manila, Davao, Cebu.

Bonoan served as public works undersecretary for former presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Joseph Estrada.

INCOMING CABINET

Uy is a lawyer and former appointee of the late president Benigno Aquino III. He is currently the corporate secretary of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI).

Uy said he intends to focus on improving digital infrastructure, which was among the main programs and campaign promises of Marcos.

He said he also intends to promote and strengthen the digital economy, digital education and e-governance.

Angping is a three-term congresswoman of Manila and a former executive assistant of Benjamin Romualdez, who was the country’s former ambassador to China, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. She also served as a technical assistant in the Office of the Governor of Leyte in the past.

Pangandaman was a former assistant secretary of the DBM and previously served as chief of staff of the late Senate President Edgardo Angara. She joined the BSP in 2019 as managing director of the Office of the Governor and Executive Offices.

Frasco, who is the spokeswoman of Duterte-Carpio, is a two-termer mayor of Liloan.

The DOT welcomed the nomination of Frasco as its new chief and said that its transition team is ready to welcome and brief the new secretary and her team for a smooth turnover.

Among those that will be turned over are the National Tourism Development Plan 2022 to 2028, and the reformulated Tourism Response and Recovery Plan (TRRP), or the department’s road map to the tourism sector’s full recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cruz-Angeles said Tulfo, apart from being a television and radio broadcaster, has been helping the public for several years now and has been known for helping Filipinos both here and abroad through social programs and his partnership with various organizations.

DSWD spokeswoman Irene Dumlao welcomed Tulfo’s appointment and said that “the women and men of DSWD are committed to support Mr. Erwin Tulfo in the fulfillment of the department’s mandate and its pursuit of providing efficient and effective services for the poor, vulnerable, and marginalized.”

The Commission on Elections said there is no rule preventing Tulfo, who is the nominee of the ACT-CIS party-list, from being designated as DSWD secretary.

Acting Elections spokesman John Rex Laudiangco said a party-list nominee is not considered as a candidate in the last national and local polls and thus, is not covered by the one-year ban on appointments.

“A nominee is not the candidate. The party-list group is the candidate,” Laudiangco said.
Meanwhile, Sen. Christopher Go said tapping President Duterte as anti-drug czar will give the incoming Marcos Jr. administration a “major boost” in its war on drugs considering the President’s experience and success in the fight against illegal drugs.

“If I were in the shoe of the next administration, it will be a big help if it will get the opinion or help by soon-to-be former President Rodrigo Duterte in the campaign against illegal drugs… Our children can now roam the streets without fearing for their safety, unlike before that the people fear drug addicts, but now it is the drug addict that should fear the government),” Go said in Filipino in an ambush interview in Digos City over the weekend.

Marcos Jr. had hinted he is willing to tap Duterte in his war on drugs after he bared that the President, during one of their conversations, asked him to continue the war on illegal drugs.

Go said President Duterte has proven himself to be effective in the fight against illegal drugs since he was mayor of Davao City until he became president.

DIPLOMATS CALL

Prior to the announcement of his new Cabinet nominees, Marcos Jr. received the ambassadors of Singapore, United Kingdom, France, and European Union at his headquarters in Mandaluyong City.

The ambassadors reaffirmed their commitment to continue working closely with the Philippines under the next administration and vowed to strengthen the ties in trade and diplomacy, as well as their common interests in democracy, self-determination, and economic recovery.

They also reassured Marcos Jr. of their willingness to provide necessary assistance to hasten the country’s recovery from the ill-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview after the call, Singapore Ambassador Gerard Ho said he highlighted during his talk with Marcos Jr. the close relations of the two countries – being partners and founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

He said they also discussed economic reforms between the two Asian countries, the growth potentials in the Philippines “and we hope to see more and more Singapore companies coming into the Philippines’ market.”

Ho also confirmed that Singapore President Halimah Yacob has invited Marcos Jr. to visit their country but there are no details as of yet as they are still discussing the schedule of the two leaders.

UK Ambassador Laure Beaufils said they talked of the good relationship between the two countries and strengthening it under the next administration.

After the meeting with Beuafils, Marcos Jr. also met with European Union Ambassador Luc Vèron and French Ambassador Michelle Boccoz.

Véron said he conveyed the EU’s congratulatory wishes to Marcos Jr. in advance of the letters of the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission. The EU High Representative Josep Borrell, on May 12, however, had already congratulated the Philippines and Marcos.

He said he had also conveyed the wish of all EU Member States ambassadors to meet Marcos Jr. at the earliest opportunity and “welcomed the importance the President-elect attached to the enhanced partnership between the Philippines and the European Union and its member states”.

Apart from envoys from Singapore, UK, France and EU, Marcos also received last week the United States Chargé d’Affaires, and the Ambassadors from Japan, South Korea, and India. – With Gerard Naval and Raymond Africa