Infra boom needs a builder-in-chief

A SONA is a report card for the past year, and explains the homework for the next year.

Unfortunately, the theatrics can get in the way of the tasks.

Thus, a more comprehensive report of accomplishments can be found in the "Technical Report on the SONA." As to the things to do, next year's national budget presents a comprehensive list of plans and programs.

For those who find the SONA wanting, the simple explanation is this: SONA is poetry. The prose is in the proposed budget.

Of course, there will be omissions, and all presidents have committed it. Unless we want an encyclopedic and kilometric SONA, we have to live with a SONA culled of many of its contents.

In this afternoon's SONA, he briefly touched on our country's decaying infrastructure, but his benchmarking 7 percent of the GDP for public construction is good enough.

I would have expected him to make this his banner call, for the sake of commuters who wake before dawn to catch a ride to work and struggle to be home before midnight.

In spite of this, I look forward to his being the builder-in-chief. Infrastructure needs close presidential supervision. It is time to pivot from a helmet presidency to a hardhat presidency.

A government focused on build, build, build will, hopefully, rewrite the national scoreboard, from tallying death, to counting roads built, jobs created, and poverty reduced.

However, each of the programs will carry a price tag. I will be asking these during the budget hearings because no matter how notable a program is, its realization depends on the availability of funds.

Is there enough legal tender to back the rhetoric? O uutang ba tayo? But are we willing to max out the national credit card?

But let no funds be spared in rebuilding Marawi, which has become indistinguishable from Mosul. We expect the government to reconstruct Marawi in the same way it was liberated: house-to-house, block by block.

His decision to seek more funds for OFWs in distress is commendable. So is his directive for all agencies to cut red tape and streamline services.

His call for procurement reforms is the step in the right direction to cure underspending and curb construction delays. But it should be in a manner that will speed up the process without shortchanging the government.

I support his call for the unlocking the full potential of Mindanao as the nation's food bowl. Ang gusto ng tao ay hindi lang makarinig ng mura mula sa Pangulo, pero makatikim ng murang pagkain din.

Universal health care is something that should get bipartisan support. Let us support it.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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