Lawmaker seeks reboot of ‘Build Build Build’ amid lockdown extension

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 25) – A lawmaker is backing the administration’s plan to keep infrastructure modernization among its top priorities, alongside its COVID-19 response efforts.

Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund "LRay" Villafuerte pushed for the immediate restart of infrastructure work under the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program while the national capital region and other ‘high risk’ areas remain under enhanced community quarantine.

Villafuerte reiterated the proposal after President Rodrigo Duterte approved the recommendation by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) declaring construction activities as essential services allowed to operate under strict health protocols.

“’Build, Build, Build’ will enable the country to achieve a V-shaped or quick recovery as infrastructure investments have the highest multiplier effects on the economy, including the generation of jobs,” Villafuerte said in a statement on Saturday.

“Creating a lot of jobs will go a long way in reversing the surge in unemployment brought about by the economic standstill,” he added.

Finance Secretary Carlos "Sonny" Dominguez III earlier said the government should focus on infrastructure developments as a way of pump-priming the economy.

READ: 'Build, Build, Build' to fuel PH economy 'bounce back' – Dominguez

The government plans to spend over ₱1 trillion this year on various construction projects, in keeping with the administration's promise to usher in a "Golden Age of Infrastructure."

Malacañang had said the President is open to dropping infrastructure projects scheduled this year to free up funds for COVID-19 response.

READ: Duterte open to dropping infrastructure projects for more COVID-19 funding

Meanwhile, Villafuerte stressed the need for employers to ensure the safety of construction workers.

He said social distancing should be strictly observed along with other health and safety protocols, such as the wearing of masks, regular monitoring of body temperature, the establishment of sanitation stations, and the use of alcohol.

He added that employers should provide lodging facilities so the workers do not need to commute every day.