MANILA, Aug. 12 –Government officials, led by Department of Budget Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno, agreed that for the country to move forward and achieve prosperity, a concerted effort must be done all at the same time and not as separate agencies.
“We are changing the rules of the game. Most of our 75 projects will be done on a 24//7, non-stop construction. These will be done simultaneously and not sequentially,” Diokno said during the Dutertenomics Forum held last Thursday,
Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar echoed Diokno’s stand, “In our case, what we want is to be open to any arrangement as long as it will allow the project to be finished on time at the lowest possible cost.”
“We are doing better this year with a higher budget. We are able to do that by implementing institutional changes, de-centralizing some of our decision making so that the projects move faster, form task forces for right of way. We have 20,000 ongoing projects and the DBM is providing all the necessary support to make sure the implementation is sound,” Villar said.
For Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) president Vince Dizon, it is all about a unity of purpose. “In my two decades of government service, this is the first time I’m seeing key members both at the cabinet and sub-cabinet levels really working together as one. There are no turf issues, we are talking to each other all the time,” Dizon said.
Another point Dizon emphasized is decisiveness. “Government is not in the business of talking and debating and discussing. Government is in the business of making decisions,” he said.
Thirdly, action matters a lot according to Dizon. “We act very quickly. When we said we will build the Clark International Airport, in just 2 months we were bidding it out,” he said.
Diokno further points out that this government is about keeping its word. “We honor contracts. If we lose in a court case we pay,” he said.
However, Diokno clarified that in the matter of contracts; the government prefers the lowest responsive bid and not necessarily the lowest bidder.
“Our procurement law is one of the best according to the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The lowest bidder is a misconception. We cannot accept an offer for a high-end vehicle with specs that belong to a low-end car. We always go for quality and we should be willing to pay for it, Diokno explained.
Secretary Ernesto Pernia of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), for his part, explained that the difference between past administrations was that contract agreements were left to the implementing agency but now, contracts are scrutinized and acted upon collectively..
Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Ramon Lopez further elaborates that whenever he goes on missions abroad, he brings with him President Duterte’s personal guarantee that the Philippines honors contracts and is tough against corruption.
“The President’s guarantee is something investors can bank on,” Lopez said. (PNA)