Governing the ‘Golden Age of Infrastructure’: Build, Build, Build Through an Accountability Perspective

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Build, Build, Build (BBB) is the ambitious P8- to P9-trillion infrastructure development program of the current Duterte administration, pledged to usher in a “golden age of infrastructure.” This paper aims to independently assess critical governance dimensions of BBB, focusing on the performance of transparency and accountability reforms, as well as those combating corruption in infrastructural development processes. Beginning with an overview of corruption drivers and good governance reforms in infrastructure development, the paper appraises the transparency and accountability mechanisms that have been established by the current administration for BBB’s implementation. This includes investigating the effectiveness of information access procedures, through systematic exercise to request the feasibility studies of 48 flagship projects reported to have completed such studies as of mid-June 2018.

All in all, access was granted to only 7 such studies, with an actual copy of the said studies only secured in a single instance. While a number of agencies have been standout performers in their responsiveness and efficacy in handling requests (i.e. the BCDA and the DOTr’s Air Transport Planning Division), most other infrastructure-related agencies have demonstrated lower responsiveness and e-FOI compliance, with more than half (29) of all requests not having been acted upon by their respective IA’s within the mandated 15-working day period. Coordination problems within and between agencies, confidentiality and trade secrecy concerns, as well as uneven and fragmented service delivery performance are underscored as major issues impeding information access to such critical public documents concerning BBB projects.